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Proposal to update school meal patterns up for public comment

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is proposing an update to the nutrition standards for meals served through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. The proposed changes are based on Institute of Medicine guidelines that were released in October 2009. Public comment is currently being sought on the issue.

The proposed rule change will bring the current school nutrition meal pattern requirements in line with the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans, or DGAs. Taking into account the latest nutrition science, the new meal pattern requirements will limit calories and sodium and require schools to offer more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

“This is the public’s opportunity to weigh in on the rules that schools will have to follow when they plan their menus,” said Sandra Kangas, director of the South Dakota Department of Education’s Child and Adult Nutrition Services. “We encourage school leaders, food service directors and parents to take some time to review the proposed changes.”

According to Kangas, the updated standards will likely be released in January 2012, making the new meal pattern requirements the official guideline for the 2012-13 school year.

Comments must be submitted to USDA by April 13. USDA will then evaluate the comments and make changes as needed.

South Dakota’s Child and Adult Nutrition Services administers the USDA child nutrition programs and has made it easy to access the proposed changes online.

Click here for directions on how to submit comments.

Contact the South Dakota Department of Education’s Child and Adult Nutrition Services at (605) 773-3413 for more information.