Just last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a new rule to encourage schools to partner with local farms to get more healthy, locally grown fruits, veggies, and more into school lunches. This will happen because schools will now have to give local providers preference when bidding for school food contracts. Schools are also encouraged to grow their own gardens. Here is a link to the NPR news article.
Thus “buy local” rule for schools is just one part of the huge overtaking of nutrition standards in school meals by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act last year.
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, signed last December, also increased funding for school meals by about $0.06 per meal, the first increase in nearly 30 years. It gives the USDA authority to set nutritional standards to any food sold in schools, including the cafeteria, stores, vending machines, and “a la carte” options.
3 Main functions of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act :
- Improves nutrition and focuses on reducing childhood obesity by setting national nutritional standards and subsidizing school lunch meals.
- Increases access to school meal programs for more than 115,000 children, many of whom reside in areas with high poverty rates.
- Calls for program monitoring to ensure that schools adhere to nutritional standards.