USDA Proposes New Rules to Cut Sugar, Salt in School Meals

The Agriculture Department on Friday proposed new nutrition standards for school meals that would impose the first limit on added sugar in lunches and breakfasts served by school cafeterias.

Via NBC News:

The proposal also seeks to lower sodium levels and puts more of an emphasis on whole-grain products in school meals. It aims to improve the health of millions of students at a time when childhood obesity has risen dramatically, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimating that nearly 20% of children and adolescents have obesity.

The suggested nutrition changes, which would be implemented gradually over years, are part of a national strategy on hunger, nutrition and health announced by the Biden administration in September.

Once enacted, they would build on the USDA’s existing nutrition requirements for school meals, which a 2021 JAMA Network Open study found are often kids’ healthiest meals of the day.

“Our commitment to the school meal programs comes from a common goal we all share — keeping kids healthy and helping them reach their full potential,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement Friday. “Many children aren’t getting the nutrition they need, and diet-related diseases are on the rise.”

On the table for the new school meal standards are:

  • Limiting added sugars in certain high-sugar products and, later, across the weekly menu;
  • Allowing flavored milk in certain circumstances and with reasonable limits on added sugars;
  • Incrementally reducing weekly sodium limits over many school years;
  • Emphasizing products that are primarily whole grain, with the option for occasional non-whole grain products;
  • Encourage domestically produced foods

The proposal lays out a slow rollout for its nutrition tweaks. Starting in the fall of 2024, it calls for meals to offer products that are primarily whole-grain.

Then in the fall of 2025, it would implement limits on high-sugar products like yogurts and cereal, as well as chocolate milk or other flavored milk. It also reduces the weekly sodium limit for breakfast and lunch by 10%. Allowable sodium limits would continue to drop in the years that follow.

And in the fall of 2027, added sugars would be restricted to less than 10% of the total calories per week for breakfasts and lunches.

The changes could have a wide-reaching effect, particularly for children who don’t otherwise have easy access to healthy food.


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One comment

  1. But didn’t Michelle Obama try to so thi- never mind 🙄

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