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National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs

On January 26, 2012 new nutrition standards were published for the National School Lunch Program and the National School Breakast Program. The standards continue to illustrate the importance of grains in the diet and highlight the benefits of whole grains. NAMA strongly supports efforts to provide more nutritious and appetizing school meals that improve the dietary intake of 32 million school children and protect their overall health.

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans announced last year included a recommendation to “eat six servings of grains per day and make half your grains whole.” In the rule announced yesterday USDA cited data that showed whole grain intake of children was less than one –quarter of the guideline recommendations while enriched grains intake is at or above the recommended levels. USDA’s decision to require all “whole grain-rich” foods in the school lunch program after two years is intended to bring children’s total diet consumption in line with the dietary guidelines.

The new standards define “whole grain-rich” foods as containing at least 51% whole grains with whole grains listed as the first ingredient. As requested by NAMA, the new nutrition standards will be phased-in over three years.

Recommendations for the serving size of whole grain-rich foods are based on the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommendation of 16 grams per serving. However, the industry standard for whole grain products is 14.75 grams. NAMA supports USDA’s decision to continue to provide schools with guidance on serving size.

The original proposal did allow schools the option of offering five servings per week of a grain-based dessert to meet part of the weekly grains requirement, while the final rule reduces that to two per week. Additionally, there is no language in the rule that would limit bake sales in schools.

Prepared by Sherri Lehman, [email protected], 202.484.2200, ext. 13

Last update January 2012

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