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School lunch proposal raises breakfast reimbursement—and CEP admission standard

School feeders would see a two-cent increase in the federal reimbursement rate for school breakfasts under the current draft of a bill reauthorizing the national school nutrition program.

The proposal is included in The House Committee on Education and the Workforce’s draft of their Child Nutrition Reauthorization Bill, which was completed Thursday, April 7.

Another key provision of the bill put forth by a House of Representatives committee yesterday would delay stricter limits on sodium limits. In addition, the measure would provide an exception to whole grain requirements for “cultural foods,” and permits foods served as part of reimbursable meals to also be sold a la carte.

The bill also returns the Administrative Review cycle to five years, from the current standard of three years, and raises the threshold for participation in the Community Eligibility Provision. Currently, a school earns that designation if 40 percent of students quality for a free or reduced-price meal. The new standard would be 60 percent.

The measure has drawn strong opposition from the School Nutrition Association, the trade group that represents foodservice executives. The change could keep more schools out of the CEP, “a program which has greatly benefited schools, students and families,” SNA President Jean Ronnei said in a statement.

“However, the bill’s ... return to a five-year Administrative Review cycle and mandates to streamline administrative requirements will ease burdens on school meal programs and allow them to focus on serving students,” Ronnei added. “We continue to review other details of the House draft bill.”

The association of 56,000 school feeders across the country lauded the Committee on its efforts to move the reauthorization process forward.

A companion bill in the Senate has been reported out of committee, but has not been put to a full Senate vote.

“SNA urges Congress to act quickly to finalize a bipartisan bill that helps school meal programs address challenges with the regulations while ensuring children continue to receive meals that meet strong standards," Ronnei said in the statement.

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