The School Nutrition Association (SNA) is calling on Congress to include language in the Fiscal Year 2015 Appropriations Bill to provide flexibility under USDA regulations for foods and beverages sold in schools.

On May 19th, SNA President Leah Schmidt, SNS, released the following statement regarding the request:

“School Nutrition Association members are constantly working to improve school menus and encourage students to make healthy choices. SNA is not asking to roll back or gut the nutrition standards, as some have stated.  We support the Target 1 sodium reductions, maintaining current whole grain requirements, and offering students a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.

“SNA members support the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, but some of USDA’s regulations go too far, actually pushing students away from healthy school meals and threatening the financial viability of school meal programs.

“Since new nutrition standards for school meals took effect, more than one million fewer students choose school lunch each day, an unintended negative consequence of standards designed to promote healthier diets for all students. Declining participation strains meal program budgets by reducing revenue for schools already struggling to manage the increased cost of preparing meals under the new standards. SNA’s 2013 Back to School Trends Survey found that in the 2012-2013 school year 47% of school meal programs reported revenue declined while more than nine of ten reported food costs were up.

“School cafeterias face even greater hurdles this fall, when all grains offered with school meals must be whole grain rich and as new Smart Snacks in School standards are implemented.

“School meal programs need more flexibility to plan menus that increase student consumption of healthy choices while limiting waste. Under the changes SNA is requesting, cafeterias would continue to offer a wide variety of whole grains, fruits and vegetables and school meals would continue to meet limits on fat and calories and reasonable restrictions on sodium.”