Child Nutrition Programs

Child Nutrition ProgramsIn 2017, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued an Interim Final Rule entitled “Child Nutrition Programs: Flexibilities for Milk, Whole Grains, and Sodium Requirements.”This rule provided Child Nutrition Program operators with flexibility regarding three main program components:MilkChild Nutrition Programs can offer flavored, low fat (1% fat) milk. Prior to this rule, only fat-free or low-fat milk could be offered, and flavored milk could only be fat-free. This change allows for low-fat, flavored milk.Schools do not have to provide proof of a reduction in milk intake or increase in wasted milk, to implement this option.GrainsThe rule extended an option to include grains that are not grain-rich in their weekly menu for the National School Lunch (NSL) and National School Breakfast (NSB) programs.The initial requirement (2014-2015) was that all grains in the menu needed to be whole grains (at least 50% whole grains, with the rest of the product enriched). Because implementing this required was difficult, state agencies could provide exceptions to schools that requested them based on demonstrated hardship in procuring or preparing specific products that met criteria and were acceptable to students.The final rule in 2017 extended the exceptions to schools until the 2018-2019 school year. State agencies must review and approve requests for exceptions from schools. Hardship in meeting the requirement must be documented and can be based on such things as lack of availability in the market, increase in plate waste, and lack of student acceptability.SodiumRetaining sodium Target 1. Decreases in the sodium content of school meals were to be achieved over 10 years, with Target 1 sodium level to start in 2014-2015, Target 2 to start in 2017-2018, and Target 3 to be achieved in 2022-2023.Prior to this final rule, the USDA had approved retaining sodium level at Target 1 through 2017-2018. With this final rule, Target 1 was retained through the end of the 2018-2019 school year.The flexibilities in this final rule are optional, allowing states and communities to serve their population in the best way. States and program operators may choose to use all, some, or none of the flexibilities in their schools.Source: Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service. (2017). Child nutrition programs: flexibilities for milk, whole grains, and sodium requirement s7 CFR parts 2010, 215, 220 and 226. Federal Register, 82 (229).

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