New USDA school meal nutrition standards are a step in the wrong direction

Date: Dec 07 2018

Contact: Megan Lowry, 202-777-3913

Statement by APHA Executive Director Georges C. Benjamin, MD

Washington, D.C., Dec. 7, 2018 — "This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a new school meal nutrition rule that weakens standards for school lunches and breakfasts. The new standards put children's health at risk by increasing limits for sodium, allowing more sugar-sweetened and flavored milk and reducing requirements for whole grains. APHA opposes this new rule and urges the administration to return to previous standards that reflected sound science and promoted health and nutrition in school meals.

"Access to proper nutrition is critical for students’ health. Many of the preventable public health challenges our nation faces today start with a lack of access to healthy foods, including growing rates of chronic disease and obesity among our nation’s youth. This new rule will reverse progress made in serving healthier school meals with more whole grains, less sodium and with less sugary drinks. 

"Meals eaten at school are key not just for individual health, but academic performance as well; and improvements in school meals have been critical to reducing health disparities. Our children’s futures depend on their opportunities for academic success and to lead healthy lives.

"The healthier school meals rules have been an important step for our nation to address nutritional shortfalls in children's diets. These new standards are a step in the wrong direction."

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APHA champions the health of all people and all communities. We strengthen the public health profession. We speak out for public health issues and policies backed by science. We are the only organization that influences federal policy, has a nearly 150-year perspective and brings together members from all fields of public health. Learn more at www.apha.org.