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Children Eating Lunch at School

Message from the Board: Updates to School Lunch Rules

Kathleen Britton

Kathleen Britton, SNS has served as the Director of Child Nutrition Programs at the Utah State Board of Education, since February 2014. Ms. Britton began her nutrition work as a Diet Tech. in Cobleskill, NY at a home for the aging. She moved to Park City in 1983 and worked at the University of Utah Dietetic Department with burn and heart patients. She soon found her love of child nutrition and worked as the Director of Child Nutrition Services, Park City School District from 1992-2014. She is very passionate about child nutrition and feels we can all make a difference in a child’s life.

Wow! Has it really been 13 years since the Healthy Hunger Kids Free Act of 2010 passed? This Act helped strengthen nutrition standards for meals and beverages provided through the National School Lunch, Breakfast, and Smart Snacks Programs, affecting 50 million children daily at 99,000 schools.

So, what is next for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) child nutrition programs? By law, USDA is required to develop school nutrition standards that reflect the goals of the most recent edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which found that most kids are consuming too much sugar, sodium, and saturated fat, and not enough fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Hence, the new proposed rule. Here’s what you need to know:

The proposed rule applies to the following child nutrition programs: National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP), Seamless Summer Option (SSO), Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), and the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). This also applies to organizations serving American Indian or Alaskan Native children through the schools' programs.

What is the next step? If you would like your opinion heard or would like to express your knowledge on this proposed rule, USDA encourages all interested stakeholders to submit comments by May 10, 2023.

Here are some key points to keep in mind that will be addressed in the proposed rule:

  • Limits on added sugar, starting with grain-based desserts, breakfast cereals, yogurts, and flavored milks, and then also a weekly limit as previously done with Child and Adult Care Food Program requirements.
  • Options for offering flavored milk.
  • Options for grains, of which allow for some enriched grains to be served.
  • Sodium reduction.

Helpful resources:

Visit the USDA website. This webpage contains a full description of the proposed provisions in the proposed rule and specifics on proposed provisions for added sugars, milk, sodium and whole grains. There is also a useful comparison chart here: Current Standards vs Proposed Standards, proposed timeline, and a media toolkit.