Join the Children’s Campaign in opposing weaker school nutrition guidelines

Written by: Stephanie Perez-Carrillo
Date Posted: January 26, 2018

We’re opposed to a proposal to weaken school nutrition standards for kids in Colorado and across the nation. This week we let the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) know that we support existing higher nutrition standards for school meals. The standards ensure Colorado students are eating healthier meals with less sodium; more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables; and no trans fat. The higher standards have also led to a reduction in sugary drinks and unhealthy snack foods available in schools.

These higher standards reflect sound science, are consistent with the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, reduce disparities, and support children’s health. Participation in the National School Lunch Program remains high, with more than 30 million kids participating in 2017, including hundreds of thousands of Colorado kids, and we must continue to make progress in improving school foods. We encourage you to submit comments in opposition to this rule too – continue reading to find out how.

The proposed rule for weaker standards would allow schools to postpone efforts in further reducing sodium and incorporating whole grains, and would allow schools to offer flavored low-fat milk. Delaying the sodium reduction requirement would result in kids consuming an extra 84 teaspoons of salt over the course of the three-year delay. Consuming too much salt puts kids at risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.

The whole-grain requirements were enacted because of the health benefits associated with consumption. Currently, 85 percent of schools are providing kids with appealing and tasty whole-grain options, including all schools in several states. We know that eating more whole grains is associated with reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes and they serve as a healthful source of fiber.

Healthy school food standards also reduce health disparities. Improvements in school foods have been critical to reducing health disparities and stigma for low-income children. Prior to the updated school nutrition standards, students in more affluent and larger schools were more likely to have access to healthier foods than those in lower-income and smaller schools.

Updated school nutrition standards are one of the most important national policy achievements addressing obesity prevention in recent decades. Researchers estimate that these improvements prevent more than 2 million cases of childhood obesity and save up to $792 million in health-care related costs over ten years. We must continue to fight for improvements to school nutrition standards that are providing kids access to healthier foods, decreasing obesity in low-income children, and are making progress in closing health disparities.

Please help us fight back against these proposed rules. There are several ways you can help:

  • Submit comments to the federal register by January 29 opposing the delay by clicking here. Use our model comments as a reference or for additional guidance.
  • Spread the word through social media. Here are some model tweets:
    • @SecretarySonny @USDA announced plans to allow too much salt in school meals and fewer whole grains: bad for kids’ health and undermines the progress that schools are making toward healthier meals.
    • 9 out of 10 kids eat too much salt, which is dangerous for their health. Yet @SecretarySonny @USDA announced plans to maintain dangerously high levels of salt in school meals.
Stephanie Perez-Carrillo

About Stephanie Perez-Carrillo

Stephanie works as a Policy Analyst for the Colorado Children’s Campaign. Prior to joining the Children’s Campaign, she worked as a Public Policy Fellow at The Women’s Foundation of Colorado – where she found her love and passion for policy work. Before diving into the policy world, Stephanie served as a Teach for America Corps Member in South Carolina, teaching high school and middle school math. Early on while obtaining her degree in Marketing from Florida International University, she worked in health care as a Patient Advocate and Unit Secretary. When she is not working, you can typically find her at a coffee shop, hanging out with friends, or engaging in some type of outdoor activity.