Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Moran: USDA agrees to national school lunch program changes

By The Herald Staff | 1/3/2014

WASHINGTON — The USDA plans to make permanent its softening of federal guidelines regarding caloric intake for school lunches.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Friday it planned to publish a final rule for the National School Lunch Program — under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 — which would make permanent the grain and meat/meat-alternate flexibility it had allowed last school year.

WASHINGTON — The USDA plans to make permanent its softening of federal guidelines regarding caloric intake for school lunches.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Friday it planned to publish a final rule for the National School Lunch Program — under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 — which would make permanent the grain and meat/meat-alternate flexibility it had allowed last school year.

The move was in response to pressure from legislators to relax strict caloric intake guidelines it had adopted in March 2012, U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran’s office said Friday.

In December 2012, USDA made temporary changes to the School Lunch Program in response to a letter sent by U.S. Sens. Moran and Pat Roberts, both Kansas Republicans, as well as some of their colleagues in the Senate, according to a news release from Moran’s office. Moran and Roberts also sponsored the Sensible School Lunch Act, legislation likely to pass this month to make the changes permanent, the news release said.

“I don’t think there is any question that all of us want our children to eat nutritious foods, but the USDA rule contains impractical and unrealistic standards that leave students hungry and are cost-prohibitive for schools to comply with,” Moran said. “School lunch program decisions should be made in schools at the local level — not mandated by the government in Washington, D.C. This decision is good news for parents, school budgets and food suppliers. Unfunded mandates like this one were making it even harder for schools to provide healthy meals to our kids.”

The effort to change the rule was prompted by the frustration of parents, school board members, superintendents and other concerned community members as the new rule was rolled out, Moran said.

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