In comments filed last week, IDFA and the National Milk Producers Federation strongly supported government efforts to make it easier for more low-income children to take advantage of the federal breakfast and lunch programs offered in schools.
The comments, filed with the Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, were in response to a proposed rule that aims to amend eligibility rules for free meals and implement the community eligibility provision included in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. The provision, so far pilot tested in several states, would allow qualifying districts in areas with high rates of poverty to offer free school meals to all children without first collecting household applications.
“Community eligibility holds the promise of increasing foods identified by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 (DGA), as lacking in most diets – including fruits, vegetables, low-fat and fat-free dairy products, and whole grains,” the comments said. “Expansion of community eligibility can help increase consumption of milk and other under-consumed healthy foods at a time when there is strong reason to be concerned about students’ nutritional intake.”
IDFA and NMPF acknowledged that milk, cheese and yogurt have been important components of the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program for years, ensuring that millions of American children receive important nutrients on a daily basis. They noted, however, that dairy foods are still under-consumed by most age groups, including school-age children and adolescents.
For more information, contact Ruth Saunders, IDFA vice president of policy and legislative affairs, at email@example.com.