Nutrition Policy Institute comments in support of the USDA’s proposed new “durable” rule for Child Nutrition Program nutrition standards

May 9, 2023

The Nutrition Policy Institute at the University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources has commented in support of the US Department of Agriculture's "Child Nutrition Programs: Revisions to Meal Patterns Consistent With the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans" proposed new “durable” rule, which would enhance school nutrition standards. The proposed rule aligns school meal nutrition requirements with the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), as required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. NPI welcomes and strongly supports the USDA's proposed limits on added sugars in school lunch and breakfast program meals. Extensive research has linked the consumption of added sugars to chronic diseases such as obesity, metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease, cardiovascular disease, and dental decay.  However, NPI added an important caveat to the proposed limits on added sugars, stating, “Nutrition Policy Institute strongly recommends that the USDA include language in the rule that restricts substitute sweeteners (e.g., artificial sweeteners, low and non-caloric sweeteners) in school meals, and explicitly not allow product reformulations that use substitute sweeteners in place of added sugars until such time as studies are conducted to assure our nation's children of their long-term safety.” Additionally, NPI commended the USDA for their inclusion of whole grains, reduced sodium, increased variety of fruits and vegetables, and traditional food options for Indigenous children, and for investment in technical assistance to school districts through the Healthy Meals Incentive Program. NPI points out that the US population is largely unhealthy, with only 12% of Americans metabolically healthy, and concludes that setting strong nutrition standards for school meals would help support the nutrition and health of more than 30 million school-age children receiving school lunches, and 15 million children receiving school breakfasts. The public comment window for the proposed revisions closes on May 10, 2023.

By Danielle L. Lee
Author - Director of Communications & Research Engagement
By Christina EA Hecht
Editor - UC ANR Nutrition Policy Institute Academic Coordinator
By Lorrene Ritchie
Editor - Director of the Nutrition Policy Institute and Cooperative Extension Nutrition Specialist