usda-school-lunch-program.jpg Peter Cade / Stone

USDA publishes proposed rule maintaining school meal flexibilities

Proposed rule would restore some flexibilities related to milk, grains and sodium from USDA's 2018 final rule.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced it will publish a proposed rule maintaining flexibility in USDA child nutrition program meal requirements related to milk, grains, and sodium, by…

• allowing flavored, low-fat milk in the Child Nutrition Programs;

• allowing half of the weekly grains offered through the school meal programs to be whole grain-rich; and

• providing schools more time for gradual sodium reduction by retaining Sodium Target 1 through the end of the 2023-2024 school year, continuing to Target 2 in SY 2024-2025 and eliminating the Final Target.

The rule proposes to restore the flexibilities included in USDA's 2018 final rule in thew wake of a court ruling earlier this year that struck down the rule on procedural grounds because of substantial differences from USDA's earlier interim rule. Despite this procedural formality, USDA notes in its announcement that schools do not have to change their meals, thanks to the meal pattern flexibilities the department has already provided in all child nutrition programs through June 30, 2021, in response to the COVID-19 national emergency.

The proposed rule will publish in the Federal Register on Nov. 25th and will be followed by a 30-day public comment period.

TAGS: K-12 Schools
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