March 25—The School Nutrition Association has urged the USDA to be sure its pending rules for competitive foods "establish a level playing field" between school foodservice operations and outside stores and restaurants.
According to association feedback, when a rule is implemented it should take the following into consideration:
· Provide flexibility, simplicity and minimum standards consistent with the Meal Pattern Guidelines, limiting the additional burden as required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA)
· Any product that can be used as part of a reimbursable lunch should be able to be sold as a competitive food without further restrictions
· Establish a level playing field between School Food Authorities (SFA) and other school food sellers, such as stores, culinary arts programs, fundraisers and vending machines
· Mitigate the undue burden of monitoring of competitive foods by SFAs, as well as training non-SFA employees
· Consider the diversity of school programs and the desirability of maintaining participation in the NSLP and SBP
· Provide nutrition education to children
· Incorporate and integrate, when possible, the standards by the HealthierUS School Challenge, the Institute of Medicine, the most recent edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, current state competitive food laws and current nutrition guidelines
· Recognize that school food directors make nutrition decision that are best for students
The association also strongly urges the USDA to release an interim final rule with an additional comment period.
More detailed information regarding SNA’s recommendations can be found here.