Recently it was announced that school meal standards would be a bit more flexible due to adjustments on restrictions of whole grains, sodium, and milk. The announcement was made by Sonny Perdue, the new Agriculture Secretary at the USDA. These changes will take effect beginning with the 2017-2018 school year and are changes to the HHFKA (Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act) of 2010. Our contract food services company focuses on K-12 dining as one aspect of our business, so we feel it important to share the changes being made to school menus.
Perdue made the announcement at an elementary school in Washington, D.C. on May 1st, focusing in particular on the topic of schools including one percent flavored milk in their meal programs. He said he would direct the USDA in this regard and that the agency would publish an interim rule regarding the milk policy change as soon as possible.
Additionally, school districts will not be required to meet lower sodium level (Sodium Target 2) requirements through the 2020 school years, and will be considered compliant until that time by meeting Sodium Target 1 requirements. Under the new rules, districts will also have the option not to serve grain products that are whole grain rich all of the time.
The Trump administration believes that fewer students participate in school meals and increased waste is a problem due to HHFKA standards being too restrictive; Perdue agrees. The intent of the program is being undermined, Perdue feels, when school lunches are going into the trash and not being eaten by students. The announcement of changes to HHFKA standards comes following years of feedback from schools, foodservice experts, and students.
The School Nutrition Association supported Perdue’s comments and was appreciative of his support of more flexibility in school menus and helping ease the planning of menus that would appeal to the taste of a diverse group of students.
Providing educational food services, we know K-12 dining services can be a real challenge for schools wanting to serve food that’s not only appealing and tasty, but healthy and nutritious at the same time. Providing meals the majority of students will eat, and that will not go to waste, can be an overwhelming challenge. At Gourmet Services, Inc. we can help make it easier!