March 11, 2014: Caitlin Emma of Politico's Morning Education reports today, "Momentum is building to roll back parts of a law dictating what kids eat in school, from the number of carrots on their tray to the salt content in their shepherd's pie. A rewrite of the 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act is more than a year away and some provisions haven't even taken effect. But key pieces of the legislation, like sodium limits and minimum fruit requirements, are points of contention that could prove ripe for elimination. "
And where's that push coming from? The School Nutrition Association, according to Bettina Elias Siegal in a January 29, 2014 post on the School Lunch Tray blog:
My colleague Dana Woldow has a new piece in Beyond Chron that’s well worth reading. In it, she takes issue with a position paper just released by the School Nutrition Association (SNA), the leading organization of over 55,000 school food professionals around the country...
Woldow tells us that the SNA is seeking to roll back some of the hardest-won gains of the new school meal regulations, namely, the requirement that children actually take servings of fruits or vegetables with their meal, and the requirement that all grains in school meals meet “whole grain-rich criteria.”
The SNA is also asking USDA to extend the comment period on the new competitive food rules which, if they go into effect as planned on July 1st, will represent the first meaningful regulation of snack foods on school campuses, everything from vending machine offerings to the items offered in cafeteria “a la carte” lines. On this latter SNA request, Woldow muses:
The USDA already received 250,000 comments during the 2013 comment period prior to finalizing the new regulations, including extensive comments from the SNA, so why do they think that even more public comment is needed?
Maybe it is because more public comment would give SNA’s patrons - some of whom are major food companies like Coca-Cola, Pepsico, Kraft, and ConAgra - more time to lobby for weakening the regulations and allowing more junk food to continue to be sold to children at school.
Woldow recognizes that SNA makes these recommendations with an eye to the fiscal bottom line of school meal programs, and that schools need more federal funding to carry out the mandates of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. But she and I are in complete agreement that the answer to this problem is not taking a giant leap backwards from the recently improved school meal standards.