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Step Aside, Washington Bureaucrats: Leave School Meals to Local Professionals

WASHINGTON – The Department of Agriculture’s recently proposed revisions to school meal patterns that will impose unrealistic and costly regulatory requirements on school districts—only adding to the hurdles schools currently face. Ensuring students have nutritious and fulfilling meals starts at the local level, not with out-of-touch federal regulation.

In Case You Missed It, Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee Ranking Member John Boozman (R-AR) wrote an op-ed, via K-12 Dive, making the case for why school nutrition professionals—not Washington bureaucrats—should be the ones making the decisions about the contents of school meals.

School foodservice programs deserve better than Beltway ‘experts’
By Virginia Foxx and John Boozman
May 15, 2023

When it comes to providing the highest quality student meals, our nation’s school nutrition professionals know best.

We have met with school nutrition professionals across the country, and no matter where they are, they strive to ensure children consume the foods that will help them thrive.

Unfortunately for schools and families, Washington bureaucrats think they have a better grasp of what children should and will eat than those serving our children. Science may design the perfect meal, but isn’t that irrelevant if children who need it most won’t consume it?

On March 7, 2023, veteran agriculture reporter Jerry Hagstrom reported that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke directly with a food services director during an on-site school visit. The director was quoted as saying, “We fear that [the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s school meal] regulations will push the neediest students away from [school meals].”

Under the new rule, schools must apply a stricter added sugars standard to nutrient-dense yogurt than the rest of their menu, remember which children are allowed to have flavored milk, and must be ready to change their meals every two years to accommodate the fluctuating regulations on sodium. This will add significant costs to schools, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture mandated with the stroke of a pen.

USDA must stop giving lip service to these hard-working professionals and students. School foodservice providers and nutritionists deserve a stronger voice than Beltway “experts.” Hear their concerns, and truly listen to understand.

Read the full op-ed here
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