United Fresh issued a statement condemning the vote by the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee on Tuesday to allow schools in states losing money on school lunch programs to opt out of mandated nutrition standards for the next school year.
"Members of the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee who voted today to roll back school meal nutrition standards that benefit the health of millions of American children should be embarrassed," said United Fresh CEO and President Tom Stenzel in a media statement.
"We are disappointed in the vote to move the bill out of subcommittee, but are pleased that so many members raised strong objections to this provision, and will continue to fight any rollback that jeopardizes children’s health."
The nutrition standards passed in 2012 require school lunch programs to add more produce, whole grains and low-fat milk to meals, while also reducing levels of salt, saturated fat and transfats.
USDA Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack also voiced disapproval over this aspect of the House appropriations bill when it was announced on May 19.
"The House bill would undermine the effort to provide kids with more nutritious food and would be a major step backwards for the health of American children, just at the time childhood obesity rates are finally starting to level off. School nutrition standards are developed by independent experts, over 90% of schools report that they are successfully implementing them, and studies show they are working to help kids be healthier," said Vilsack in a media statement.
As of the 2014-2015 school year, the regulations required that all grains be made with 50% whole grains.
USDA announced today that schools that are having difficulty producing whole wheat meals on a large scale could continue to serve traditional pasta for the next two years. Schools would need to get approval from their state in order to receive the two-year extension.
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