TN Justice Center objects to lower school menu standards

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The Tennessee Justice Center is extremely disappointed that the USDA has issued a proposed rule to roll back nutrition standards in our schools. Earlier this month, the USDA announced that they would walk back school nutrition standards that were established in 2012.

This move would allow schools to serve fewer fruits and grains, a smaller variety of vegetables and less healthy entrees. It is an unnecessary and counterproductive move that does nothing to improve the nutritional health of our children.

This rule is not final and is now open to public comment. We encourage advocates, schools and concerned parents and individuals to comment in opposition to the proposed rule. The 60-day comment period closes on March 23. You can read the proposed rule online at bit.ly/nutrition-standards.

In Tennessee over 515,000 children from low-income families participate in free and reduced-price meals on an average school day. 333,415 Tennessee children receive free or reduced-price school breakfast.

For many kids who participate in both school breakfast and lunch they will get more than half of their daily calories from school meals, and they should be guaranteed the highest nutrition standards possible.

The school nutrition guidelines are immensely important to children from low-income families who may rely predominantly on school meals.

Healthy school meals help combat childhood obesity and improve overall health, particularly for low-income children.

USDA’s own research, as well as other research, shows that school meals have improved children’s diet and health. The USDA study revealed that there was greater participation in school meal programs at schools with the highest food standards and the study also found that food waste remained relatively unchanged.

We are calling on everyone to oppose the USDA’s proposed rule to weaken school meals by submitting public comments.

Comments may be submitted in writing by one of the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to regulations.gov.
  • U.S. Mail: School Programs Branch, Policy and Program Development Division, Food and Nutrition Service, P.O. Box 2885, Fairfax, VA 22031.
  • Overnight, courier, or hand delivery: School Programs Branch, Policy and Program Development Division, Food and Nutrition Service, 1320 Braddock Place, 4th Floor, Alexandria, VA 22314.

All written comments submitted in response to this proposed rule will be included in the record and will be made available to the public.

FNS will make the written comments publicly available via regulations.gov.

SIGNE ANDERSON is the director of nutrition advocacy at the Tennessee Justice Center. Contact Anderson via email to sanderson@tnjustice.org.