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USDA Rule on School Nutrition Standards

On Thursday December 6th, 2018 the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued their final rule on school nutrition standards which could result in children being served fewer whole grains, more sodium, and flavored milk that is higher in fat, calories, and sugar.

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The USDA rule comes despite overwhelming opposition from schools, parents and organizations like the American Heart Association. It threatens to undo the incredible progress we have made in schools since the passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) of 2010. Since the passage of HHFKA and the subsequent 2012 release of updated school meal standards, millions of children across the country have benefited by being served healthier food at school. Nearly 100% of our nation’s schools already comply with the healthier 2012 standards leading one to question why the USDA reversed course?

Proposed changes to the school nutrition standards were first announced last year and the Association opposed them at every step of the way. Unfortunately, the USDA chose to press forward with the rule, making it final, under the guise of offering schools more flexibility despite the successes of schools already meeting the 2012 standards.

Healthy school meals help combat childhood obesity and poor cardiovascular health, but they also help establish a foundation for a lifetime of healthy behaviors. In fact, studies have shown that healthy school meals can help improve academic performance and even increase attendance in schools!

With so much at stake, the American Heart Association issued the following statement, urging schools to reject the final rule and to continue their commitment to serving healthier school meals. The Association will continue to advocate for robust school nutrition standards to ensure the health and wellbeing for all children, but we can’t do it alone. Concerned parents can reach out to their school principals, school boards, or school food service programs and ask them to stay the course by continuing to meet or exceed the 2012 standards. You can visit this page for more information on school meals in your state, but please tell them that more salt and fewer whole grains have no place in our schools!

Looking ahead to 2019, the Association will continue to advocate for healthier school meals for our children. The American Heart Association will do everything it can to preserve access to heart healthy school meals so please be on the lookout for ways to help in the new year.

From everyone at the American Heart Association we wish you a happy and heart healthy holiday season!

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