Big Wins For School Food In 2011, Despite CongressThu 01 Dec 2011
Story by The Food Revolution Team
We have been sharing our disappointment that Congress bowed to industry pressure and weakened great new standards for school lunchby permitting French fries and pizza every day. Yet despite these last-minute setbacks, super important gains were made in 2011 on federal rules for school food. These improvements bode well for the Food Revolution. Read on to learn more.
When the final USDA meal standards are released this winter they will include historic improvements to the food on the tray. Other portions of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act will add money, jumpstart new programs, and usher in better community involvement in school food.
What Did We Get On the Tray?
The first major changes to school food standards in 15 years will still include:
• Double the overall fruits and vegetables each day at school meals, with specific requirements for each
• Specific requirements for good veggies like leafy greens and orange veg
• Milk has to be low-fat, and only skim milk can be chocolate
• Access to clean, free drinking water
• More whole grains
• Limits on calories, sodium, saturated fat, and trans fats
Plus, local districts and States are free to set stronger nutritional standards and move more quickly on changes than the federal government requires.Your schools can get started right away!
What Did We Get Beyond the Tray?
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act that passed in December of 2010 did much more than require new food standards. It means:
• 6 cents more funding per meal – while not enough, it’s the first increase in 30 years
• Vital information about school menus must by law be easily accessible to parents and the community
• Stronger Local School Wellness Policies, with required public input and a real implementation plan
• For the first time, baseline standards for all foods sold in schools, including chips in vending machines, candy at school stores, and sugary drinks in “a la carte” lunch lines.
• Easier sign-up for families eligible for free and reduced school meals
• More Farm to School, school garden, school breakfast, and local sourcing programs, plus an organic food pilot with preference for low-income districts
• Districts can no longer use federal meal funding to subsidize junk food or undercharge paying customers
• Better oversight that schools are meeting the rules, including audits every 3 years
Expect to hear lots more about the “competitive foods” – those vending machines, school stores, and food sales - that “compete” with the lunch line.
Once the final USDA nutrition standards are released this winter we will report more on when you can expect changes in your local school cafeterias, and on your rights are as parents and Food Revolutionaries.
The Food Revolution Team
Image: Slide taken from a USDA Food and Nutrition Service, Child Nutrition Division webinar
To learn more:
• White House Fact Sheet on the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act when it passed
• FRAC detailed overview of the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act
• A detailed summary of the school meal nutrition changes as the USDA proposed them
• Non-partisan, science-based recommendations from the Institute of Medicine on which the USDA standards are based (by law)
- The Real Food Innovator Awards
- California Legislation Calls For Warning Labels On Soda
- Real Food Media Project Announces Winners
- New School Meal Standards Increase Fruit, Vegetable Consumption
- A Visit From Jamie Oliver & His Mobile Kitchen Big Rig
- March’s Monthly Challenges
- Lessons Learned From Cooking
- The Big Rig Rolls On To Next NorCal Stop
- Coming Up On May 16 - The 3rd Food Revolution Day!
- Food Culture And Education In Japan
- Blog Of The Month: Veggie Desserts
- A Food Revolution Adventure From The US To Europe
- Encouraging Passions To Foster Our Sustainable Food Future
- Paying It Forward For Life
- Cooking Basics – Learning Cooking Skills And So Much More
- Edible Schoolyard New Orleans: Growing A Love Of Food
- Nutrition Provisions In The Farm Bill
- One Moms Mission For A Candy-free School Valentine
- Join In On The Fun At The Kids Food Festival
- A Naturally Sweet School Valentine's Day