School Nutrition Standards Stay Strong… For Now

July 02, 2014

More challenges ahead

By Mark Bishop, Vice President of Policy

Last month during Cooking up Change, HSC visited legislators with students from across to country. At that time, the U.S. Congress was considering a bill to roll back nutrition standards on schools. Well, for a bit of positive news, it seems that these legislative efforts aren’t going anywhere in the short-term. The combination of Republicans biting a bit more then they could chew , and the general dysfunction in Congress , seems to be leading to a short-term respite for challenges to school nutrition standards.

While school food advocates are breathing a sigh of relief, it’s also clear that 2015 is being set up for an important year for child nutrition. In 2015 the Child Nutrition Act will most likely be brought up for reauthorization, and if the last few weeks can be used as an indication, there will be many attempts to knock it down.

We believe there will be efforts to weaken the nutrition standards, cut back on school kitchen improvements, or even limit support for farm to school programs. At a time when childhood obesity is still at an all-time high, and we are learning more and more about the long-term effects of unhealthy diets, backtracking on child nutrition is not a viable strategy to support student health. We believe that investing in schools, repairing kitchen facilities, and supporting professional development for school food professionals is the way to support healthier kids. It’s also what we believe to be a winning message.

However, sometimes it’s nice to have a little reminder of the important work we have ahead of us. At Cooking up Change, student chef, Anna, a 17-year-old from Winston-Salem, N.C., said it so well:

I just hope Congress doesn’t pass this bill to reduce the standards, because we’re so close. The salad bar is the longest line in my school. I really feel like we’re making a difference.

We are making a difference. So, to everyone who has supported ours and the many efforts to improve school nutrition, thank you. Let’s enjoy our momentary breather, because it looks like we have our work cut out for us next year.