6 cent rule is a linchpin to schools adopting new meal standards that will improve kids’ meal choices in the cafeteria.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service has issued an important piece of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 – the 6 cent interim final rule – to give schools and communities the tools to meet the challenge of providing more nutritious food. This rule is another big step to provide our children with the nutrition they need in school to be healthy, active and ready to face the future.
In January, USDA unveiled new standards for school meals based on recommendations from the Institute of Medicine and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These updates will result in healthier meals for kids across the nation. The 6 cent interim final rule is important because it establishes the requirements for states to certify school district compliance with the new meal standards. Once certified, school districts that meet the meal standards will be reimbursed an additional 6 cents for each lunch served.
The meal standards together with the additional funding proposed in the 6 cent interim final rule provide the means to help schools raise the bar for our children. The rule also ensures that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely by funding only the schools that have met the standards. State agencies that administer the school meal programs play a critical role in the process by providing the technical assistance to help school districts meet the standards and oversight to ensure the standards are met.
Although the meal standards for school lunch don’t go into effect until July 1 (breakfast standards will be phased in over the next 3 years), we’re happy to say that many school districts are already well along the way to meeting the new standards by serving more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lower-fat dairy products.
There’s a reason that the First Lady championed the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act as part of her Let’s Move! initiative – the Act established a comprehensive package of responsible reforms that do what’s right for children’s health in a way that’s achievable in schools across the nation. This additional funding to support schools that meet the standards is the first real increase in school lunch reimbursements in more than 30 years and puts us a step closer to making the next generation of children healthier than the last.