January 28, 2016

New Child Nutrition Act Reinforces that School Nutrition Regulations are Working

For the past several months, the fate of school nutrition standards for tens of thousands of schools nationwide has been uncertain as the Child Nutrition Act awaits reauthorization from Congress. The Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program has worked with more than 31,000 of these schools to implement the nutrition standards required by the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which included adding more fruits and vegetables, increasing whole grain-rich products, and reducing sodium at breakfast, lunch and snack time.

Last week, the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee approved The Improving Child Nutrition and Integrity Access Act of 2016, a five-year reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act. This bill would continue to support – and in some areas increase support – for implementing healthy meals and snacks in schools. The core of the nutrition standards for school foods remains intact, reinforcing the success schools have had meeting the current standards.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reissued the Dietary Guidelines for Americans this month as well. The Dietary Guidelines, also updated every five years, serve as the basis for federal child nutrition programs, including the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs and the Child and Adult Care Food Program.

Through our work with school cafeterias around the country, we’ve seen remarkable progress from schools meeting the current federal nutrition standards.


In Wayne County, Kentucky, increasing fresh, in-season produce has contributed to the district’s 88 percent participation rate in the school lunch program and 78 percent participation rate at breakfast.

In Chicago, Illinois, Namaste Charter School made incremental changes to wean students from refined grain products – now the school serves only whole wheat bread.

In Cincinnati, Ohio, Food Service Director Jessica Shelly limited snack foods and made à la carte items the same price as the reimbursable meal to increase participation in her healthy school lunch program and keep costs steady.

Watch how Eastern Middle School West in Pennsylvania has successfully implemented a made-to-order salad bar:


The Alliance provides tools and resources to assist schools in making healthy changes to the meals and snacks they serve, including our Smart Snacks Product Calculator, which help school nutrition professionals and other school staff quickly assess whether or not a food or beverage meets the Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards. Our online Training Center provides on-demand training videos and tutorials, and our National Advisors are on-hand to answer questions and lead in-person and virtual workshops for school leaders.

As demonstrated by bi-partisan support from Congress and the thousands of school nutrition professionals we work with around the country, school nutrition standards are having their intended effect: providing access to healthier foods and beverages for our nation’s children, enabling them to grow up to be a healthier generation.


Sample tweets

  • School nutrition standards are working: Fresh produce & salad bars keep kids lining up http://bit.ly/1Pne15w #Nutrition4kids
  • Lawmakers and school leaders are supporting healthy school meals. See how http://bit.ly/1Pne15w #Nutrition4kids
  • See how schools in OH, PA, KY and IL are successfully meeting school nutrition standards http://bit.ly/1Pne15w #Nutrition4kids