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Proposed Rule: National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program: Nutrition Objectives for School Meals

This rule proposes to amend the regulations outlining the nutrition standards for the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. It is part of an integrated, comprehensive plan for promoting the health of children. Specifically, this proposal would update the current nutrition standards to incorporate the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which reflect medical and scientific consensus on proper nutrition as a vital element in disease prevention and long-term health promotion. This proposal would also adopt meal planning based on analysis of key nutrients (Nutrient Standard Menu Planning) in lieu of the current meal pattern. These changes would be implemented no later than July 1, 1998. The Department will be providing State agencies and school food authorities with technical assistance to enable them to meet this implementation date.

In developing this proposed rule, the Department is responding to an array of medical and scientific evidence linking improper diet with increased incidence of heart disease, strokes and certain cancers. These proposals acknowledge the positive role school programs must play in establishing childhood eating patterns that influence lifelong habits. The Department also considered extensive oral testimony presented at four public hearings and meetings as well as written comments submitted in response to a notice published in the Federal Register on September 13, 1993.

In recognition of the importance of reinventing and streamlining government programs, this proposal would also remove various paperwork burdens associated with the school meal programs and would modify the review requirements for the National School Lunch Program to ensure adequate oversight of the proposed updated nutrition standards. The overriding purpose behind this proposed rule is to serve more nutritious and healthful meals to school children while maintaining access to the meal programs for needy children, and to enhance the flexibility of local schools to administer the programs.

Page updated: April 12, 2022