USDA Issues Proposals to Streamline School Nutrition Framework

As part of his campaign to increase flexibility in child nutrition programs and reduce food waste, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and the USDA Food & Nutrition Service (FNS) published two proposed rules this week.  One modernizes the Summer Feeding Program.  The other offers several proposals affecting the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program.  The rule also requests public input to address an issue IBA continues to speak out against, the reimbursement ban on "grain-based desserts" in the Child & Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).  CACFP is often used to feed children who attend pre-kindergarten under the same roof as K-5th graders.  

Since the last major child nutrition update in 2016, FNS heard feedback from program administrators and suppliers that the Obama-era rules were too strict.  Within months of taking office, Secretary Perdue responded by issuing rules to provide some flexibility--a slow-down of the sodium reduction timeline, a rescission of the ban on flavored milks and an ease of the whole grain requirement from 100% to 80%.  Throughout this time, IBA was outspoken about the need for similar action regarding the grain-based dessert restriction in CACFP.  Since the reimbursement ban went into effect, program administrators reported a drastic drop in the number of shelf-stable snack options they could serve to pre-kindergarten students, as well as children and adults in daycare under the program.   IBA met with FNS staff in 2017 and with USDA Deputy Undersecretary Brandon Lipps in 2019 regarding the need for flexibility.

In this proposed rule,  FNS seeks public input on whether to ease the grain-based dessert restriction in CACFP by realigning the ounce allotment with that used in school lunch and school breakfast.  IBA is working with a coalition of allies, including trade associations, research groups, product suppliers and school representatives to comment in support of making the change.  The comment period ends March 23, 2020.  We encourage all IBA members who supply to schools to reach out to your school district contacts and encourage they comment in support of adding flexibility and consistency between CACFP and school meals.  Please contact Andrea Hart by replying to this email if you would like to provide input for IBA's comment or if you'd like to connect IBA to your school district contacts.