Senators urged to ease, not tighten, faculty vitamin guidelines | 2021-03-25

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Senate Republicans, along with School Food Service directors, are campaigning against calls by public health advocates to improve nutritional standards for school meals.

“When schools face financial pressures and are doing their best to feed children during the pandemic, I find it alarming that schools are also having to adhere to strict nutritional standards for which no product is available,” said the senior Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee . Arkansas Senator John Boozman said at the start of a hearing Thursday about reauthorization of child nutrition programs.

The Obama administration has placed new limits on the sodium law and wholegrain requirements under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Children Act of 2010. During the pandemic, the Department of Agriculture allowed states to allow schools to exempt schools from these and other nutritional standards.

The School Nutrition Association, which represents the nutrition directors of the school system, wants the exemptions to be extended through the 2021-2022 school year, and also wants Congress to re-approve the children’s diets bill to remove the whole grains – and lower sodium needs.

Under current regulations, the sodium limit for a student’s lunch is expected to drop from currently 1,080 milligrams to 740 milligrams in 2024.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Heart Association, and other public health advocates released a letter ahead of the Thursday hearing urging lawmakers to raise nutritional standards in accordance with the latest federal nutritional guidelines, which were finalized in December.

“As child food insecurity and obesity have risen, the importance of healthy school meals has taken on a new urgency,” AAP President Lee Savio Beers, a Washington, DC pediatrician, told the committee.

“It is important that we build on the advances made under the Healthy, Hunger Free Children Act to improve the nutritional quality of all food available in schools so that it is in line with nutritional guidelines,” she said. Since 2010, a limit on added sugar has been added to the dietary guidelines.

Diane Golzynski, The director of the Michigan Education Department’s health and nutritional services bureau said sodium limits for 2024 were challenging but doable. “It’s something we should just keep working on, even if we have to increase the time to get there,” she said.

Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Has so far given little indication of whether she wants to tighten nutritional standards in the re-approval bill, which would make it much more difficult to get GOP support. It could leave this matter to the Agriculture Minister to deal administratively under his existing legal authority, experts say.

Mentioning childhood obesity in her opening speech, Stabenow said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the dual challenge of obesity and hunger.”

Jessica Gould, the nutrition director for the school system in Littleton, Colorado, in the Denver suburbs, said existing sodium limits are already difficult to meet, often forcing schools to rephrase meals in ways that are uncomfortable for many students.

“Lots of staples like a turkey and cheese sandwich on a whole grain bread or a chicken breast salad with no dressing, and all of our homemade products, including our students’ favorite marinara, would be cut out of the school menus if.” The limits for 2024 come into effect, said Gould, who represented SNA at the hearing.

The committee’s Republicans joined Boozman to join the school nutrition directors.

A pizza that meets the 2024 sodium limit and is known as a “Tier 3” “is basically a piece of cardboard with no cheese … I just don’t think kids are going to eat Tier 3 diets,” said Senator Roger Marshall, R- Kan., An obstetrician.

He also advocated serving whole milk at school meals, arguing that the fat is needed to absorb important vitamins. “There is such a thing as good fat,” he said.

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