2015 K-12 Census: USDA regulations continue to confound schools

Despite their best efforts, operators still struggle to satisfy healthy menu requirements.

confused school girl

USDA rules continue to bring challenges

Meal requirements for whole grains, sodium reductions and competitive foods continue to make school foodservice programs more difficult to operate, directors say.  Generally, however, the largest districts have found following the new regulations to be less challenging than have other size districts:

SIZE OF DISTRICT PERCENTAGE MEETING 100% WHOLE GRAIN REQUIREMENTS HAS BEEN EXTREMELY OR VERY CHALLENGING MEETING SODIUM REDUCTION REQUIREMENTS HAS BEEN EXTREMELY OR VERY CHALLENGING MEETING COMPETITIVE FOOD (AKA SMART SNACKS) REGULATIONS HAS BEEN EXTREMELY OR VERY CHALLENGING
<2,000 52% 70% 65%
2,000-4,999 52% 76% 69%
5,000-9,999 62% 69% 71%
10,000-69,999 45% 70% 67%
>70,000 25% 58% 36%

Dropping out of the NSLP

Even though the USDA regulations frustrate many operators, relatively few districts say they have dropped out, or have considered dropping out, of the National School Lunch Program. The most onerous regulation seems to be the competitive foods rule: Of the districts that have left or are considering leaving the program, 40 percent say it is because of the "Smart Snack" rule.

Have any of the schools in your district left the national school lunch program?

Some are considering dropping out 15%
None of our schools have dropped out 84%
Some have dropped out 1%

“Smart Snacks” rule costs districts money

One thing most school districts agree on: The implementation of the competitive foods regulations has cost their districts revenue. The loss is being most keenly felt in medium-size (5,000-9,999 student) districts, where 85 percent report that food sales have decreased as a result of implementing the new rules. The average percentage decrease is 25 percent.
 
Since implementing the competitive food regs, have sales increased, decreased or remained the same?
 
smart snacks rule chart

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