Washington D.C. (KELO AM) - Senator John Thune today applauded the recent announcement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that it would enact changes to the National School Lunch and Breakfast Program requirements following demands from a group of senators regarding concerns about how the strict limits on calorie intake were impacting students.
“I applaud USDA’s decision to heed our concerns and give schools additional flexibility in meeting the serving requirements for grains and meats,” said Thune. “Flexibility is needed to ensure schools continue to provide healthy meals and portions for students commensurate with varying activity levels. I will continue to work with USDA and our schools to ensure that administrators have the resources and authority to provide nutritional school meals for our students.”
Following the passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, school districts throughout South Dakota and around the country began sharing the implementation challenges resulting from USDA’s overly restrictive interpretation of the law regarding the caloric intake of grains, starches, and proteins. Schools expressed concerns that USDA’s “one-size-fits-all” approach to school lunches left students hungry and school districts frustrated with the additional expense, paperwork, and nutritional research necessary to meet excessive federal requirements.
In response to these concerns, Thune, along with several of his colleagues in the Senate, sent a letter to USDA calling for changes to be made to the program lifting strict limitations on caloric intake of grains, starches, and proteins. USDA responded by lifting the limitations on caloric intake of grains and starches, as well as protein, but only for the 2012-2013 school year. In order to make these changes permanent, Thune joined his colleagues in cosponsoring the Sensible School Lunch Act (S. 427).
On January 2, 2014, USDA announced it would be publishing a final rule in the Federal Register on Certification of Compliance with Meal Requirements for the National School Lunch Program under the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 making permanent the change to grain and meat/meat-alternate flexibility that USDA began using as a result of the senators’ urging over the past year.