The Final Four Rules for School Food

In late July, USDA issued the four final rules to implement provisions of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. These four final rules ensure that children have access to healthy snacks and foods marketed and served in schools which are consistent with research based nutrition standards. The four final rules focus on promoting school meal integrity. The rules issued by USDA Food and Nutrition Service were:


The Smart Snacks in School final rule aligns the nutritional quality of snacks sold to children during the school day with the science-based improvements made to school lunches and breakfasts over the last five years. These include using practical, science-based nutrition standards that ensure children are offered more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. States have the flexibility to allow limited exemptions to school-sponsored fundraisers during the school day.


The Local School Wellness Policy final rule ensures that any food or beverage that is marketed on school campuses during the school day meets the Smart Snacks standards. According to a study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 70 percent of elementary and middle school students are exposed to some kind of food/beverage marketing through school. Many of the foods and beverages that are heavily marketed to children contribute to poor diet quality, high calorie intake, and excess weight gain. However, the majority of schools do not have policies restricting food and beverage marketing to children. This rule makes sure foods offered and marketed to students during the school day have consistent nutrition standards.


The Local School Wellness Policy final rule also empowers communities to take an active role in the health of their children. It requires schools to engage parents, students and community members in the annual development and assessment of local school wellness policies. These policies guide a school district’s efforts to establish school environments that support healthy eating and physical activity. States and local communities will have flexibility in developing a policy that works best for them.


The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) final rule and the Administrative Review final rule were also presented. Under HHFKA, CEP allows schools and local educational agencies with high poverty rates to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students to promote access to healthy food and reduce administrative burdens on schools and families.


Source: School Nutrition Services e-news, 8/22/16.

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