The School Nutrition Association (SNA) has endorsed H.R. 1303, the School Nutrition Flexibility Act, bipartisan legislation introduced in the House of Representatives that would permanently eliminate weekly maximums on grains and proteins served with school meals.
Under the new nutrition standards for school meals implemented in July 2012, weekly grain and protein limits have restricted school cafeterias from offering a variety of healthy menu items. Schools could not offer daily sandwich choices because serving two slices of whole-grain bread each day exceeds weekly grain limits. Meanwhile, salads topped with grilled chicken and low fat cheese could exceed weekly protein limits. Some schools have even had to take scratch-prepared soups off the menu because small amount of chicken or noodles in the recipes exceeded weekly limits.
H.R. 1303 would eliminate weekly grain and protein maximums, but protect all other nutrition standards, including calorie limits and requirements that school cafeterias switch to whole grains and serve a wider variety of fruits and vegetables.
“The School Nutrition Flexibility Act will ensure students continue to receive well-balanced and right-sized school meals, but the legislation gives school cafeterias the flexibility they need to plan healthy menus that appeal to students” says SNA President Sandra Ford. “School nutrition professionals appreciate the leadership of Representatives Stivers and Fudge.”
H.R. 1303 would also amend Section 205 of the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act to ensure that well-managed school meal programs that are financially solvent will be allowed to set their own meal prices.
Both the grain/protein maximums and meal price requirements were featured on SNA’s 2013 Legislative Issue Paper and key discussion points for SNA’s “Charge to the Hill” during its 41st Legislative Action Conference earlier this month.
SNA has also endorsed S. 427 and H.R. 1244, the Sensible School Lunch Act, which would also eliminate grain/protein maximums.