Hoeven Joins Students at TGU Granville for Lunch

Senator Highlights Need for Flexible School Lunch Standards

GRANVILLE, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today jointed students, teachers and school officials at TGU Granville to learn about the school’s community garden and lunch program firsthand. The senator spoke with students about permanent changes that have been made to the school lunch program to provide schools with greater flexibility to meet individual schools’ and students’ needs. TGU employee Kimi Ofsthun wrote Hoeven to invite him to speak and dine with the school’s students.

Hoeven sponsored the Sensible School Lunch Act to provide school districts with greater flexibility to meet the nutritional needs of all students after hearing from North Dakota students who were left feeling hungry due to new, strict school nutrition standards enacted at the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year. The rule attempted to curb obesity by strictly limiting calories, protein and grains for all students without any flexibility to meet the needs of athletes or others whose dietary needs do not fit the guidelines.

In December 2012, USDA made temporary changes to the School Lunch Program in response to a letter led by Hoeven and Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas and signed by other senators. In response to the senators’ request, the USDA lifted its strict limit on grains and starches as well as protein to give schools more flexibility. The upper cap on total calories remains in place. However, the modification was provided only through the 2013-2014 school year.

Hoeven and Pryor then introduced bipartisan legislation to make these changes permanent. The senators’ legislation, the Sensible School Lunch Act, had broad, bipartisan support and the backing of the national School Nutrition Association. In response to their legislation, the USDA made the changes permanent administratively in early January 2014.

“I appreciate Kimi Ofsthun inviting me to visit TGU to learn more about school’s impressive garden and lunch program and to meet with the talented students, teachers and staff who make up this great school,” said Hoeven. “TGU has earned a strong reputation for its academic strengths and deserves commendation for its efforts to plant a school garden that supplies many of the fresh, local ingredients used in the school’s lunch program. This project stands as an excellent example of how individual schools are working to meet the unique nutritional needs of their students, and it is important that the government does not hinder this flexibility.”

During his visit to TGU, Hoeven spoke at a school-wide assembly, providing students with an update about some of the legislative priorities impacting North Dakota and the country. The senator also praised TGU for its garden and school lunch program, highlighting recent changes United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has made as a result of legislation Hoeven authored to provide schools with greater flexibility in following rules for serving grains, starches and proteins in school meals.

TGU’s garden is planted each spring by members of the FFA. The school’s cooks then use food grown in the garden to prepare daily lunches served to students.