USDA Issues Interim Final Rule on School Meal Flexibility

By  •  December 1, 2017 at 1:22 pm

On Nov. 29, USDA released an interim final rule to extend current regulatory flexibility for school meal programs through School Year (SY) 2018-19.

The interim rule maintains Target 1 sodium limits for school meals. USDA “anticipates” extending this deadline through SY 2020-21. States can continue to offer waivers to schools demonstrating hardship in procuring or preparing specific whole grain rich foods that are acceptable to students (e.g. whole grain tortillas or brown rice). Finally, the rule provides schools the option to offer flavored 1% milk. USDA requests public comment on the interim rule and the sodium reduction timeline to inform the development of a final rule, effective in SY 2019-20.

SNA issued a press release in response commending USDA for the extension and expressing support for greater flexibility under whole grain and sodium mandates to address challenges while maintaining strong standards to benefit students. SNA is assembling a member working group to develop detailed recommendations to improve a final rule.

To read SNA’s full release, including related data from SNA’s 2017 School Nutrition Trends Report, click here.

To read the interim final rule, click here.