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Senate Ag Committee Chairman Calls on USDA to Provide Greater Flexibility in School Meals

  • Enacted in 2010, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) set rigid nutrition standards for schools and paved the way for the subsequent implementation of school meal rules that many in the industry argue have limited the flexibility of school foodservice providers, led to increased food waste in school cafeterias, and resulted in declining participation in the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs. USDA’s Final Rule: Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, for example, imposes stringent sodium limits and whole grain and dairy requirements.

  • On April 6, 2017, U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, sent a letter to the USDA urging regulatory relief from rigid school meal standards, writing that:

    • “For the past several years, I have heard concerns from school children, parents, teachers, administrators, and school foodservice providers in Kansas and across the country regarding the challenges of complying with rigid school food standards.”

    • “[School meal rules] have limited the flexibility of school foodservice providers, led to declining participation in the program, increased food waste in school cafeterias, and caused confusion regarding what foods can be used in fundraisers and extracurricular activities.

    • “The current waiver system does not provide schools and those involved in planning and preparing school meals with the necessary flexibility and certainty. I urge you to act administratively and provide immediate relief from certain egregious aspects of the standards, particularly in regards to the rapidly approaching sodium limits and the dairy and whole grain requirements. After providing immediate relief, I urge you to provide long-term flexibility and certainty for our schools, our school foodservice directors, and other stakeholders.”

  • With a new administration at the helm, it is likely that the regulatory relief being sought from current rigid school meal standards will be granted.

© 2017 Keller and Heckman LLP


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Keller and Heckman offers global food and drug services to its clients. Our comprehensive and extensive food and drug practice is one of the largest in the world. We promote, protect, and defend products made by the spectrum of industries regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Commission and Member States authorities in the European Union (EU) and similar authorities throughout the world. The products we help get to market include foods, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, veterinary products, dietary supplements, and cosmetics. In addition...