As kids across the country head back to school, some members of Congress want to roll back progress on improving school meals.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proposed common-sense standards to improve school lunches and breakfasts and ensure kids get balanced meals by including more fruits, a greater variety of vegetables, whole grains, more fat-free and low-fat milk, and by limiting salt, unhealthy fats and excess calories.
Now, on behalf of some in the food industry, a group of Senators is trying to undermine USDA's authority and limit the agency's ability to finalize the plan to set schools on a path to serving healthier meals based on sound nutrition guidance.
If the Senators who oppose USDA's efforts are successful, the goal of seeing healthy school lunches in cafeterias across the country will be in serious jeopardy.
We need your help to send a loud and clear message to Congress that we want to see healthy menu items in school cafeterias.
Subject: Let the experts at USDA do their job!
I write to ask you to support U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA's) effort to improve school meals and to oppose those who seek to limit USDA's commonsense, evidence-based standards that will ensure that our kids get healthy, balanced meals in school.
Updated school meal standards are long overdue -- 15 years to be exact. USDA has proposed new, science-based nutrition standards for school lunches and breakfast to help ensure that all children receive healthy school meals. Once implemented, our nation's school children would have access to meals that include more fruits, a wider variety of vegetables and whole grains along with low fat and nonfat milk.
Given the epidemic childhood obesity rates and the important role school meals play in children's diets, we cannot afford to wait any longer.
I know that some Senators are concerned with USDA's proposed standards since they encourage schools to provide students with a greater variety of vegetables than is currently required, and limit the amount of starchy vegetables like French fries in school meals. Given that these are proposals, USDA has said that it plans to consider these concerns as it finalizes the standards and will seek to strike a balance that ensures the rules are achievable, while most importantly guaranteeing that our kids are getting healthful meals at school.
(Your Comments Here)
Please show your support for these important updates to the school lunch and breakfast programs and let your colleagues know that the process in place at USDA is the right way to move forward.