Hoeven Continues Working to Provide Flexibility in School Meal Programs

Senator Delivers Keynote at National School Nutrition Association Conference

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, who serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee and chairs the Agriculture, Rural Development and Food and Drug Administration Appropriations Committee, this week delivered the keynote address at the School Nutrition Association’s (SNA) Legislative Action Conference. The Senator continues working to provide greater flexibility for schools to meet U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) requirements regarding whole grains and sodium in school meal programs. 

“We continue working to provide much needed flexibility in school meal programs so schools can serve healthy and nutritious meals that students enjoy, while also meeting their budgets,” said Hoeven. “This is all about providing both good nutrition for students and flexibility for school nutrition professionals.”

Specifically Hoeven is working to provide flexibility for requirements related to whole grains and sodium:

  • WHOLE GRAINS:  Under current regulations, all grains offered with school meals must be whole grain rich – down to the croutons on the fresh salad bar. While schools struggling to comply with this mandate were able to apply for a waiver for the current school year, Hoeven is working to address concerns with the waiver application process and also to provide longer-term flexibility for schools struggling with product availability or facing unreasonable cost increases due to the requirements.
  • SODIUM:  Over the last two years, schools have made great strides in reducing sodium to meet Target 1 sodium levels. However, school nutrition professionals have warned that lower sodium targets, set to take effect on July 1, 2017, will push many healthy options, like low-fat deli sandwiches, soups and salads off the menu, due in part to naturally occurring sodium in foods.

Hoeven secured a commitment from Governor Sonny Perdue, the nominee to serve as USDA Secretary, to work with the senator, school nutrition professionals and school districts to ensure that they have the necessary flexibility to both meet their budgets and serve nutritious meals that students will eat.