The U.S. Department of Agriculture last week announced four final rules that will implement provisions of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act and build on USDA’s efforts to improve the nutritional quality of meals served in schools. The rules promote healthy snacks and aim to ensure that nutrition standards, called “Smart Snacks in Schools,” are consistent for all foods marketed and served in schools.
IDFA doesn’t expect the final rules to have a significant impact on the nutrition standards for dairy foods served in schools or through other federal feeding programs. Read more about dairy’s role in “USDA’s Smart Snacks Program Keeps Many Dairy Products in Schools,” which was published in July 2013 when the interim final rule for nutrition standards was published. These standards have been effect since the 2014-2015 school year.
The four rules cover competitive foods sold in schools, local wellness policies, eligibility of students to participate in school feeding programs and an administrative review.
- The Smart Snacks in School final rule aligns the nutritional quality of snacks sold to children during the school day with the same standards applied to school lunches and breakfasts. States have the flexibility to allow limited exemptions to school-sponsored fundraisers during the school day.
- The Local School Wellness Policy final rule ensures that any food or beverage that is marketed on school campuses during the school day meets the Smart Snacks standards. The rule also requires schools to engage parents, students and community members in developing and assessing local school wellness policies that support healthy eating and physical activity. States and local communities will have flexibility to develop policies that work best for them.
- The Community Eligibility Provision final rule allows schools and local educational agencies with high poverty rates to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students to promote access to healthy food and reduce administrative burdens on schools and families. The final rule streamlines the administrative processes, making it easier to participate in the meal programs. More than 18,000 schools in high poverty areas currently participate and provide nutritious meals at no cost to 8.5 million students.
- The Administrative Review final rule updates the review process used by state agencies to monitor federally funded school meal programs. It increases accountability and transparency by publicly posting how well school food authorities are complying with various requirements.
In total, USDA's Food and Nutrition Service administers 15 nutrition assistance programs. In addition to National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program, these programs include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the summer meals programs, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children.
For more information, contact Cary Frye, IDFA vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.