WASHINGTON – Agriculture Under Secretary Kevin Concannon has announced increased support for schools across the Nation as they implement healthier and more nutritious school meal standards for America’s kids. Schools will be reimbursed an additional 6 cents for each lunch they serve in accordance with the new standards– the first increase beyond inflation in over 30 years.
“Hungry and undernourished children simply can’t be the students they were intended to be,” said Concannon. “The ambitious new meal standards, especially those for school lunch, will provide millions of healthy meals each and every day and that is why USDA is providing these important additional financial resources to help schools raise the bar for our kids.”
The increased reimbursement, a significant investment in improving the quality of school meals, will be provided to school districts once they have made any changes needed to their menus to meet the new standards announced by USDA on January 25, 2012. Funding will begin flowing to schools across the country this year.
School meal programs are a partnership between USDA, State agencies and local schools, and the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 recognized that ensuring adequate resources for schools was essential to make meal improvements a reality in schools across the nation. The Act includes five major components that work together to give schools and communities new tools to meet the challenge of providing healthier meals:
- Updated nutrition standards for school lunches and breakfasts, based on expert recommendations from the Institute of Medicine;
- Increased funding for schools – the first real increase in 30 years – tied to strong performance in serving improved meals;
- Common-sense standards for the revenue provided to school food authorities from non-Federal sources, to ensure that these revenues keep pace with the Federal commitment to healthy school meals and properly align with costs;
- Science-based standards for all foods sold in school, the first ever, national standards to ensure that foods and beverages sold in vending machines and other venues on school campuses also contribute to a healthy diet; and
- Training and technical assistance to help schools achieve and monitor compliance.
USDA plans to continue to work with schools and communities to help improve meals so they are consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This latest action represents, for the first time in 15 years, a critical investments that will upgrade the standards for school meals.