Rep. Davis Introduces the School Nutrition Fairness Act
Pana, IL – U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) today, at a press conference at Pana Jr. High School, introduced legislation that would require the White House and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to abide by the same nutritional standards imposed on our nation’s students.
“Students, parents and educational leaders in my district and across the country have expressed concerns about meeting the new nutrition standards for school meals,” said Davis. “While these regulations were put in place with good intentions, they are making it harder for school districts to do their job, leading to increased costs, decreased participation and in some cases, hungry children.”
The School Nutrition Fairness Act would force the White House to abide by the breakfast or lunch requirements currently imposed on students for any official meal and require USDA cafeterias and White House cafeterias to abide by these new standards as well.
The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) was created in 1946 to provide students, especially low-income students, with access to “nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches”. During the 2012-13 school year, new nutritional standards, including set calorie ranges and weekly limits on grains and meat consumption, for the NSLP were implemented by the Administration.
“Unfortunately, Washington is not getting the message,” said Davis. “In order to demonstrate to the Executive Branch the problems that these regulations are imposing on our school districts, I think the White House and USDA should have to abide by the same nutritional standards imposed on our students.”
During a House Committee on Education & the Workforce hearing on June 27th, 2013, the General Accountability Office (GAO) testified that of the eight school districts they visited during the 2012-13 school year, five expressed that the new school lunch requirements were leaving some students hungry and most of the school districts reported increased costs in their school lunch program. Additionally, five of the eight districts indicated that the meat and grain maximums made it difficult to plan menus, and in order to achieve compliance some districts added foods that “do not improve the nutritional value of lunches”, such as ice cream, butter and cheese sauce.
At the hearing, GAO shared two recommendations to help schools with menu planning and compliance with the new regulations. The first recommendation would permanently remove the weekly meat and grain maximums for school lunch and the second would give flexibility to schools in order to comply with the calorie ranges. To date, the USDA and the Administration have not acted on either one.