The United Department of Agriculture (USDA) is extending the comment deadline for the proposed rule for school meals until April 22. The extension is intended to allow schools, state agencies, stakeholders, and others who are working tirelessly to ensure children have food to eat while schools are closed the opportunity to provide valuable feedback.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced a proposed rule that would weaken nutrition standards in school meals. This proposal already put children’s health at risk, but with schools closing in the midst of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it highlights the importance of healthy school meals for kids during an outbreak and beyond.
Some school districts most impacted by coronavirus have decided to close their campuses and conduct classes virtually. This measure raises the question – where will food insecure children who rely on breakfast, lunch and sometimes dinner get nutritious meals when cafeteria doors are shuttered?
Luckily, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue reacted quickly, stating the USDA would take steps to give states more flexibility to provide school meals during coronavirus-related closures.
American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown commended the secretary for his quick action to ensure all children who need the meals they would normally get at school will still get them even during closures.
“Unexpected school closures threaten to jeopardize the nutritional needs of millions of children nationwide who receive free and reduced-price school meals each day. The steps announced today are necessary to ensure essential meals reach vulnerable children whose schools are forced to shut down because of the coronavirus,” Brown wrote in a statement released Tuesday.
As much as we appreciate this stopgap measure to make sure that children get fed during this pandemic (and we do appreciate it), the long-term need to protect the nutritional quality of school meals remains.
Under a recent USDA proposal, kids would be served less fruit and a smaller variety of vegetables, and schools could replace healthier foods like carrots and broccoli with tater tots or french fries.
We need your help: Use this quick form to tell the USDA to maintain and strengthen the 2012 standards.
Let the USDA know our kids deserve healthy meals year-round! The Department is accepting public comments on its proposal until March 23.