The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens


Roberts and Vilsack exchange views on school lunch

Citing “considerable public outcry” over the implementation of new nutrition guidelines for the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs, Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Pat Roberts, R-Kan., wrote Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today requesting justification of the new policies and further analysis of their effects on active students, on school participation in the program and on the industry and economy as a whole.

Roberts also asked whether calorie counts are appropriate and whether children are getting enough protein.

A USDA spokesman told The Hagstrom Report that the Agriculture Department sent school food administrators a memo this week on the school meal standards. The memo defends the standards, but also notes that schools are free to serve additional food to student athletes.

“The new standards are based on recommendations from an independent panel of doctors, nutritionists, and other experts to ensure that meals paid for with hard-earned tax dollars are healthy and balanced,” the spokesman said.

“The calorie range actually exceeds what most schools were serving students previously and the standards place no limit on food that students can purchase in addition to or instead of the taxpayer-subsidized meals,” he said. “Additionally, if a school encounters significant hardships employing the new calorie requirements, we stand ready to work with them quickly and effectively to remedy the situation with additional flexibilities.”