CNIC: USDA meal pattern regulations promised "soon"

At CNIC, Cindy Long, director of the Child Nutrition Division of the USDA, told attendees the new meal pattern regulations out "soon."

Jan. 17—At CNIC, Cindy Long, director of the Child Nutrition Division of the USDA, told attendees the new meal pattern regulations as specified in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, will be out “soon.” “You shouldn’t have to wait too much longer,” she added.

The regulations were expected to come out last week. The School Nutrition Association has rescheduled a webinar that will educate its members on the new guidelines for Feb. 1, leading one to assume to regulations will be out before then.

Long also said the proposed competitive foods rule will be released shortly after the new meal pattern regulations are released, which will be followed up by a public comments time period.

Long also addressed the so-called two-program debate, which centered around the 6-cent increase in meals that meet the new meal pattern regulations. That increase begins in October. Some in the industry have questioned wording in that part of the legislation, which seemed to suggest that there would be one program that did not meet the new meal pattern regulations and therefore wasn’t eligible for the 6-cent increase, and another program that did meet the new meal pattern regulations and received the 6-cent increase. Long said that was incorrect and that there was not an option of meeting the new regulations or not. “There will not be a program A and program B,” she said. “If you don’t meet the requirements, you will be out of compliance.”

In addition, Long said she does not expect to see any fallout for child nutrition directors from last week’s announcement that the USDA is closing nearly 260 offices in an effort to cut the budget. She also clarified that the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act regulation regarding professional standards will affect state and local directors only and not every child nutrition employee. She said training is being developed for non-director child nutrition employees but that those titles would not have specific professional requirements in order to be hired.