May 2, 2017

Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Agriculture announced yesterday in a memo titled USDA Commitment to School Meals that the USDA would offer some flexibility to schools across the nation who have “worked diligently to overcome operational challenges”. Meant to assist schools who participate in the NSLP, the proclamation of this easement in menu planning intends to help with providing “nutritious and appealing meals and encourage student participation in the meal programs”.


  • USDA will begin the regulatory process of offering schools additional options to serving 100 percent whole grains and will continue to provide States the authority to grant exemptions to schools experiencing hardship in obtaining whole grain-rich products acceptable to students, for any type of grains on the menu for school year 2017–2018
  • Schools that meet sodium Target 1 for school years 2017-2020 will be considered compliant (see table)
  • Schools may serve flavored 1 percent fat milk to provide more options to students

 While Perdue and the new Administration hopefully recognize the importance of providing our nation’s children with nutritious school meals, School Nutrition Professionals wait with baited breath to see if these changes signal more of what’s to come. There has been significant progress made in school meals since the HHFKA was passed in 2010 and any further roll backs could impact the benefits we’ve seen from stronger regulations.