USDA Announces More ‘Flexibility’ For Next Year’s School Meals

Just a day after House Republicans introduced legislation to roll back some Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulations on school meal programs, the USDA announced some flexibility would be granted to some schools for the coming school year when implementing the new policies:

“Schools raised legitimate concerns that acceptable whole-grain rich pasta products were not available. We worked to find a solution which will allow more time for industry to develop products that will work for schools,” said [Agriculture Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin] Concannon.

The two-year flexibility for schools who have “experienced significant challenges in preparing and serving whole grain-rich pasta products” must be approved by the schools’ state agency.  Earlier, “flexibility” had been granted in some cases for portion sizes and for timetables for phasing in new requirements.

The Republican legislation would go further than these USDA delays by allowing schools that experience financial loses over a six-month period to apply for waivers from the program. The USDA seemed to be indirectly responding to this proposal by noting that “USDA analysis suggests that nationwide schools saw a net revenue increase in the first year of implementing the updated standards.”