Friday, May 08, 2015

Senate Agriculture chair determined to rewrite school nutrition rules before act expires Sept. 30

Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) "said he's intent on enacting a new child nutrition law by Sept. 30, giving schools more flexibility in meeting standards for school meals," Philip Brasher reports for Agri-Pulse. "The committee's ranking Democrat, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, made clear she will resist lowering the standards, but she said she was working with Roberts on a reauthorization bill." If a bill is not passed, the programs and standards will continue, even if the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act expires as scheduled on Sept. 30.

Roberts told reporters, “I know there are some that may prefer that we not succeed in this endeavor. It is time for folks to come together and be part of crafting legislation, not to stand outside the process hoping it fails.” Stabenow said, “We certainly want to have something that moves us forwards, not backwards. Sen. Roberts and I are having excellent conservations about doing that. I'm hopeful we can do that.”

The School Nutrition Association is "seeking to roll back the whole-grains standard that took effect in 2014 and end a requirement that schools provide at least half a cup of fruits and vegetables a day," Brasher writes. "The group, which argues that the standards have reduced student participation in the school meals program while increasing school costs, also wants to maintain the existing limit on sodium, eliminating a planned reduction in 2017." Some schools have argued that students are not eating the healthier options, leading to more food being thrown away. (Read more)

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