Did the USDA Learn from Last Year’s Ill Feelings Over New School Regs?

This time around, the USDA has provided alternatives and asked for help deciding which option will work best.

Perhaps the USDA learned something from the release of last year’s new meal pattern regulations.

Last week the organization released its latest set of proposed regulations for school food. These rules affect competitive foods and snacks. Reading through the regs I was pleased to see that the USDA, in several cases, has offered alternative proposals for specific requirements. The organization has asked for child nutrition professionals to comment on which option would be a better fit.

That’s a nice departure from last year’s regs, when alternatives were not offered. The USDA, as required by law, did have a public comment period for operators to provide their thoughts. But this time around the USDA is asking for operators to provide them with feedback on specific options. Why is that important? Many child nutrition directors expressed some version of the following sentiment regarding the release of last year’s regs, “No one asked us what would work or not work.”

Even if the USDA already has its preferred method in mind, by getting those people who actually have to implement these standards directly involved in the decision-making process, they might feel a little more ownership over the regs. That could lead to less grumbling this time around. 

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