Newswise — CHICAGO – School nutrition programs will have more flexibility in areas related to serving flavored milk and whole grains under a final rule released this week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The rule also allows more time for schools to reach sodium reduction targets.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recognizes some school districts need additional flexibility to meet improved school nutrition standards provided by this rule. However, the Academy remains committed to strong nutrition standards for school meals that children want to eat and that Academy members have worked hard to implement.
“Registered dietitian nutritionists have demonstrated that making positive changes to improve the nutrition quality of meals served in schools is not only possible, the changes are acceptable and even desired by students,” said registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy President Mary Russell. “While schools in some areas may choose to make programmatic changes in foods that are served, the Academy encourages those that have already successfully adopted the higher standards to maintain them.”
Nine out of ten children consume high levels of sodium, which studies show may increase their risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. The Academy strongly supports reducing students’ overconsumption of sodium, but recognizes the merits of a slower approach that allows more time for reformulating products and for students’ palates to adapt to changes. The Academy looks forward to new sodium Dietary Reference Intake values from the National Academies, which should be factored into future school nutrition standards.
“The Academy has been working on this issue with national stakeholders and has submitted comments throughout the rulemaking process. We will continue to advocate for safe, nutritious meals for children in schools,” Russell said.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the Academy at www.eatright.org.