The U.S. Senate has approved an amendment to an agriculture appropriations bill that will protect the flexibility of school districts in selecting the vegetables served in school lunch and breakfast programs.
NSBA supported the amendment, co-authored by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.), that blocks the use of 2012 funding to implement “highly prescriptive” requirements on the use of vegetables in school meals, said Lucy Gettman, NSBA’s director of federal programs.
The proposed rules would have limited the servings of some starchy vegetables, such as white potatoes, lima beans, and corn, to one cup per student per week, and banned these vegetables from school breakfasts.
The rules also threatened to increase school district costs for providing meals, and in a letter supporting the Collins-Udall amendment, NSBA expressed concern to senators about the budget impact to local school districts.
“The financial and operational impact on local school districts could be immense at a time when they already are slashing their budgets in response to eroding resources,” NSBA stated. “The proposed rule could therefore force districts to curtail more education programming and take more teachers out of the classroom to pay for it. School district flexibility and authority are needed to assure that meal options are healthy, nutritious, responsive to the needs and preferences of local communities, and are cost-effective.”
NSBA’s letter of support was entered in to the Congressional Record after Sen. Collins mentioned it on the Senate floor, Gettman said.
“NSBA strongly supported the efforts of Sens. Collins, Udall, and others to ensure that school districts retain the flexibility to provide nutritious meals to students,” she said, adding that NSBA would continue to monitor the legislation as it works its way through the Senate.