Public Policy and Legislation

Important Information from USDA
Competitive Foods Update:  Interim Final Rule Published

Regulation: the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has published an interim final rule for Competitive Foods entitled, National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program: Nutrition Standards for All Foods Sold in School as Required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

Comment Period: this interim final rule amends the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program regulations to establish nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools. There is a 120 day comment period for the interim final rule and written comments on the rule are accepted until October 28, 2013 at the following direct link:  http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FNS-2011-0019-4718

Major Adjustments: the key changes in the interim final rule are:

  • Increasing the proposed rule’s sodium limit on snacks and non-program side dishes from 200 mg per portion as packaged to 230 mg (through June 2016);
  • Exempting nuts/seeds and nut/seed butters from the rule’s total and saturated fat standards;
  • Exempting part skim mozzarella cheese from the total and saturated fat standards;
  • Allowing full strength juice diluted with added water (or carbonated water);
  • Allowing fruit packed in light syrup; and
  • Adopting the 35 percent by weight standard for sugar over the alternate 35 percent of calories standard.

Implementation: all regulations in this bill will go into effect July 1, 2014, with the exception of the potable water rule, which goes into effect within 60 days after the rule’s publication in the Federal Register on June 28th. Therefore the potable water rule effective date is August 14, 2013. 
A few nutrition guidelines will change effective July 1, 2016. Review links below for details.

Useful Links:  several links to the official FNS website and related information are below for your convenience and review.

Controlling Junk Food and the Bottom Line: A Case Study

A new study released by the Illinois Public Health Institute presents case studies of schools that improved nutrition standards for their competitive food and beverages without significant negative financial impact: Controlling Junk Food and the Bottom Line: Case Studies of Schools Implementing Strong Nutrition Standards for Competitive Foods and Beverages.

Click here for the report and here for the press release.

Some of the key findings from the study are listed below:

  • Loss of profit was not the most frequently cited concern about changing nutrition standards
  • For the districts and schools in the study, "doing the right thing" was more important than profit
  • Most respondents had a positive outlook on the future profitability of competitive foods
  • Strengthening nutrition standards for competitive foods is associated with increased participation in the USDA reimbursable meal program
  • Strong competitive food and beverage standards do not have a more adverse financial impact on low-income school districts compared to higher income districts
  • Schools experienced declines in competitive food profits. However, schools report that over time, profits rebounded, and when measured across all food service accounts, profits remained the same or increased.

Implementation of the 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act - Survey

In February, SNS worked with the Academy’s Policy Initiatives and Advocacy staff in Washington, D. C.in development of a survey sent to SNS members February 21 to help assess the impact implementation of the 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) had on school nutrition programs. Information collected in the survey will be used to share these valuable experiences with both Congress and USDA.  We would like to thank the many SNS members who took the time to complete the survey, your help and input is greatly appreciated.

Below are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS) regarding the survey.

Q: Who is collecting the data in the survey, and how will it be used?

A: The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Policy, Initiative and Advocacy office is collecting the data to better understand the success and challenges of implementing the HHFKA. The survey data will help shape the Academy’s voice, when speaking with USDA and Congress officials.

Q: Will results of this survey be shared with SNS members or at PPW or with both groups?

A: Yes, the survey results will be shared with SNS members in late spring or early summer. Some preliminary results are noted in one of the PPW issue briefs, but a full report will be out in late spring early summer.

Q: How and in what format or context will the information from this survey be shared with USDA/FNS?

A: The survey results will be presented as a brief to USDA and Congress.

Q: I work in a State or Federal Agency, why don’t any of the questions pertain to my role in implementation of the HHFKA?

A: We focused the survey on school or school district level nutrition services professionals. We recognize that State and Federal professionals implementing the HHFKA will have different issues then represented on the survey. The survey requires the first question to be answered and the questions that ask for “successes” and “challenges” of implementation, this may be a place for State/Federal professionals to provide input.

Smart Snacks for Schools: We All Have Homework to Do for Kids’ Health

Posted by: School Meals that Rock

On February 1, 2013, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the long-anticipated proposed rule on competitive foods in schools, now known as Smart Snacks in Schools. Published in the Federal Register on February 8th, the rule is now open for a mandatory 60-day public comment period, which closes on April 9, 2013. The overall reaction has been positive, although many folks are probably still trying to digest the details of the 160-page document.

Changes in allowed snacks according to USDA

Changes in allowed snacks according to USDA

If your schedule does not permit a long read, several good summaries are available online. There is a very readable Q-and-A format in USDA Summary, excellent materials from a webinar by USDA and Food Research Action Center (FRAC), and the School Nutrition Association page with links and member-only comment section. The more you read, the more you’ll know. What follows is my personal, big picture reaction to the proposal and what it will really mean in local schools.

...to continue reading this article click here

 

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