USDA plans nutrition incentives

School foodservice authorities across the country that serve meals which satisfy federal dietary guidelines may soon qualify for special financial rewards, under a new incentive program being developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In outlining the Bush Administration's principles for reauthorization of USDA's child nutrition programs, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman says that the dept.'s efforts to support "healthy school environments" will include federal "incentives to schools that promote good nutrition."

Who qualifies? Details of the initiative were sketchy at presstime, though USDA officials disclosed that schools could qualify for financial incentives by taking various actions to promote good nutrition, including "serving meals that meet the dietary guidelines, offering healthy-choice alternatives and providing nutrition education."

Non-financial incentives may also be offered to schools that support USDA's efforts to ensure healthy school environments, and participation in the incentive initiative will be voluntary, they add.