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More than 700 Salud America! members and thousands of other people and groups across the nation submitted formal public comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to oppose its proposal to weaken school nutrition standards!
Way to go, Salud America! family!
These comments urge the USDA to reconsider its proposal, announced Nov. 29, 2017, to allow schools to serve of refined grains over whole grains, flavored milk, and higher levels of salt in meals.
The USDA has not announced any action since the end of the public comment period on Jan. 29, 2018.
Still, there now is hope for the many Latino kids who depend on school lunch for a healthy meal, thanks to members of the Salud America! network and others who took action!
The Salud America! Response
The USDA proposal would weaken school food nutrition standards, health experts say.
For example, groups participating in the national school lunch program (NSLP), school breakfast program (SBP), child and adult care food program (CACFP), and the special milk program (SMP), would all be allowed to serve non-whole-grain foods, flavored milk with added sugar, and delay a reduction in sodium in school meals.
Salud America!, a national network of over 100,000 members who work to drive community change for Latino health, immediately launched a national campaign to enable its members to submit model comments comments on the USDA proposal on the regulations.gov website.
After the 60-day comment period, Salud America! members submitted 9% of public comments (713 of 7,762) received via regulations.gov.
Advocacy groups like Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) also encouraged supporters to act, filing more than 80,000 more comments with the USDA outside of regulations.gov.
“With such tremendous progress, it makes no sense for the Trump administration to allow schools and companies to reverse course and to jeopardize kids’ health,” Margo Wootan, vice president for nutrition at CSPI, wrote in a blog post.
Why Keep School Food Nutrition Strong?
According to CSPI, 9 out of 10 school aged kids already eat too much sodium.
Rather than help kids consume less than 740 mg of sodium a meal, proposed changes would allow for nearly twice this amount of sodium.
Whole grains are an important source of fiber and associated with less heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Rather than promote a healthy weight in children, flavored milk would add more empty calories to a child’s diet.
With nearly 40% of Latino kids overweight or obese, helping kids maintain a healthy weight is crucial to the nation’s health.
According to a recent poll, more than 60% of Americans opposed rolling back nutrition guidelines.
Therefore, communities must continue to speak up for what’s best for kids’ health.
Contact Salud America! for more ways to improve school nutrition and childhood health!
Read more about the USDA’s announcement to change nutrition guidelines here.
View the list of comments made to the USDA here.