Friday, September 27, 2013
Going into the 2013-2014 School Year, the vast majority of schools are successfully meeting the updated meal standards which offer children more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables; low-fat milk; and less salty and fatty foods. Even before the new standards took effect and more resources were available, many schools across the country were leading the way with healthier options and appropriate portion sizes. In fact, schools that adopted the changes earlier report that participation increased as students and parents became accustomed to the healthier options. More than 100,000 schools participate in the National School Lunch Program. While the vast majority of schools have been successful in meeting these new standards, recent reports have highlighted a few schools that have decided to drop out of the program. Schools joining or leaving the program is nothing new. Some schools may opt out for a number of reasons, including mergers, closures or moves; food vendor concerns; or compliance and training issues. However, a very small percentage of schools – 0.15 percent – chose to drop out of the program last year due to the new meal standards. Whatever the reasons, USDA continues to provide additional flexibility and technical assistance to schools as they all now work to offer healthier meals.