Agriculture Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon announced that USDA is making permanent the current flexibility that allows schools to serve larger portions of lean protein and whole grains at mealtime.
“Earlier this school year, USDA made a commitment to school nutrition professionals that we would make the meat and grain flexibility permanent and provide needed stability for long-term planning. We have delivered on that promise,” said Concannon.
USDA has worked closely with schools and parents during the transition to healthier breakfasts, lunches and snacks. Based on public feedback, USDA has made a number of updates to school meal standards, including additional flexibility in meeting the daily and weekly ranges for grain and meat/meat alternates, which has been available to schools on a temporary basis since 2012.
USDA is focused on improving childhood nutrition and empowering families to make healthier food choices by providing science-based information and advice, while expanding the availability of healthy food. Data show that vast majority of schools around the country are successfully meeting the new meal standards.
“This is good news for our schools,” said Teresa Wiemerslage, ISU Extension Program Coordinator and food system coordinator for NE Iowa Food & Fitness.
“Many schools could not offer daily sandwich choices because serving two slices of whole-grain bread each day exceeded weekly grain limits, and salads topped with grilled chicken and low fat cheese surpassed weekly protein limits. This flexibility gives school food service more options for healthy meals.”