Smith Says Changes to School Lunch Regulations are a Step in the Right Direction, More Flexibility Needed
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) released the following statement on changes to school lunch regulations allowing more meat and grains in meals:
“I appreciate the Department of Agriculture’s decision to allow for more grains and meat in school meals. These changes are a step in the right direction and should be made permanent. However, parents and local officials will need additional flexibility to implement the school lunch program to effectively meet their budgets and the nutritional requirements of their students. These decisions are best made at the local level.”
The new school meal requirements stem from the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. This legislation gave USDA the authority to set nutritional standards for all food regularly sold in schools, including cafeterias, school stores and vending machines. The legislation failed to adequately consider budget limitations faced by school lunch providers and provided no credit to schools already taking steps to offer students healthier choices.
In light of the feedback from officials, parents, and students across Nebraska surrounding the implementation of the new meal standards, Smith sent a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack in September. In the letter, Smith asked the department to review the current guidelines; to consider abandoning the bureaucratic and burdensome approach to school meal planning; for local officials to be given more flexibility in implementing the guidelines; and for the USDA to conduct a thorough evaluation of cost and participation rates across the county.