Judge voids USDA move to water down school nutrition rules

The Trump administration's decision to delay and dilute rules calling for less sodium and more whole grains in school meals was overturned by a federal judge in Maryland, said the nonprofit legal organization Democracy Forward on Monday. "Our victory ensures that school lunches will be healthier for 30 million children," said the group on social media.

USDA will help ‘keep the kids fed’ during Covid-19, says Perdue

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told school food directors on Monday the government will help them continue feeding children if schools are closed due to Covid-19. “If schools are closed, we are going to do our very best to see you all have the tools you need to keep the kids fed,” he said at a School Nutrition Association conference.

Number of low-income children eating school breakfast hits plateau

After years of increases, the number of low-income children eating free or reduced-price breakfast at school plateaued at 12.4 million during the 2018-19 school year, said the Food Research and Action Center, an anti-hunger group.

Where Perdue sees ‘flexibility’ in school food, critics see junk food

On his sixth day on the job in 2017, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue made chocolate milk safe for schools again, along with white flour and salt, in the name of regulatory flexibility. Those revisions to the school food program became final in late 2018. The USDA will propose a new round of "common-sense flexibility" for school meals this week, says Perdue. Skeptics said it will mean more pizza, burgers and fries and fewer servings of fruits and vegetables.

‘Kids eat local’ bills may be part of child nutrition overhaul

Companion bills introduced in the House and Senate would make it easier for schools to buy locally produced foods to serve to their students, said sponsors on Thursday.

How Oakland became a leader in cutting school food waste

Among the 40 percent of all food thrown out is this statistic: America’s school lunch programs waste $5 million in food every day. FERN’s latest story, published with Grist, focuses on Nancy Deming of the Oakland Unified School District, a leader in the movement to cut school food waste and redirect the food to students and people in need. Here’s the main take-aways:

Dinner at school is a growing option for U.S. students

Compared to the long-established school lunch program, after-school programs that provide snacks or supper to pupils are tiny. In fact, just 1.2 million suppers, versus 30 million lunches, are served in school each day.

Food company coaches schools on ‘whole-grain waiver strategy’

A food service management company that operates in 600 U.S. school districts is offering them, in the words of its vice president for nutrition, “instructions” on how to get a waiver from the USDA requirement to serve whole-grain-rich bread, pasta, and baked goods to their students, said The Lunch Tray.

USDA to extend ‘flexibilities’ for school food, maybe for years

In a Federal Register notice today, the USDA announced it will extend its “three flexibilities” for school menus — salt, whole grains, and flavored milk — into the 2018/19 school year. It will also invite comment on the “long-term availability of the flexibilities,” which Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue introduced at an elementary school on his sixth day in office.

Alliance declares 323 schools as America’s healthiest, based on meals and exercise

The anti-obesity Alliance for a Healthier Generation named 323 schools across the country as "America's healthiest schools," based on offering healthy school meals and ensuring physical activity each day. Nearly half of the schools were from Texas, California, Georgia and Arizona. "Schools earned the distinction by successfully meeting a rigorous set of criteria for serving healthier meals and snacks, getting students moving more, offering high-quality physical and health education, and empowering school leaders to become healthy role models," said the alliance.