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Published January 02, 2014, 04:15 PM

Heitkamp-Sponsored Bill Prompts USDA to Add Flexibility to School Meal Requirements

BISMARCK, N.D. – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp today welcomed the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) expected decision to add flexibility to help schools comply with school meal requirements.

By: WDAZ Staff Reports, WDAZ

BISMARCK, N.D. – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp today welcomed the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) expected decision to add flexibility to help schools comply with school meal requirements.

The change, which will permanently remove a maximum limit for proteins and grains in school meals, is what Heitkamp called for when she co-sponsored the Sensible School Lunch Act last year.

“It’s crucial that we make sure our kids are given healthy meals at school so they are ready to learn each day. But we also need to give flexibility to schools, especially those in rural areas, to enable them to provide nutritious meals without excessive restrictions,” said Heitkamp, the daughter of a school cook. “I’ve heard from North Dakota educators about how the current law makes it hard for them to find this needed balance. That’s why I cosponsored legislation to give our schools the flexibility they need to provide healthy meals for students. Today’s action by the USDA uses the approach in our legislation to strike the right balance, which helps put North Dakota’s schools and students on the right path forward.”

The USDA notified Heitkamp today that the agency will publish a final rule in the Federal Register tomorrow to make permanent changes – which have been used for the past two school years – to the amount of grains, starches, and protein in school lunches which will lend significantly more flexibility to schools and students. Heitkamp co-sponsored the Sensible School Lunch act to force the USDA to make these changes permanent.

Heitkamp, a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, will continue to push for sensible school nutrition standards as the committee considers reauthorization of child nutrition programs next year.

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