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veggies in school lunch line

Nearly 30 million children eat school lunch everyday

School lunch continues to evolve, comes under Congressional spotlight during #NSLW19

Did you know Oct. 12-16 was National School Lunch Week?

National School Lunch Week was created in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy to celebrate the benefits of the National School Lunch Program, which is the largest federal child nutrition program.

This year’s them was “School Lunch Snapshot.”

Here’s some information about school lunch:

  • The National School Lunch Act was signed by President Harry Truman in 1946.
  • More than 30 million children eat school lunch everyday.
  • Children can qualify for free or reduced meals. Children from families with incomes at or below 130% of the federal poverty level are eligible for free meals. Those families with incomes between 130% and 185% of the federal poverty level are eligible for reduced price meals. Schools may not charge children more than 40 cents for a reduced price lunch.
  • School food services are reimbursed for meals based on children’s free, reduced price or paid eligibility status. See the rates.
  • Schools also receive select foods from USDA.
  • President Trump issued a Presidential Proclamation on National School Lunch Week.

Here’s a look at what’s on Twitter for #NSLW.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue used the occasion to highlight new guidelines USDA is providing to schools. Perdue said the guidelines bring new opportunities to allow commercially produced smoothies to be included in school meals, provide more guidance on serving milk options, and allow for healthier, more innovative foods to be incorporated into meal plans. Schools are also empowered with more resources to offer salad bars and better positioned to teach good eating habits to our nation’s children.

USDA is also promoting Farm to School initiatives. This year’s Farm to School grants are the biggest ever awarded – with more than $9 million supporting programs across 42 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico – and will reach more than 3.2 million children in over 5,400 schools. These grants increase the amount of local food in America’s schools, while helping young people foster healthy eating habits. They also create new economic opportunities for local farmers, ranchers, and producers and can inspire children to consider future careers in agriculture.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service administers the program.

The school lunch program is in the middle of a political fight. On Wednesday, House Democrats questioned why USDA took months to acknowledge that as many as 982,000 schoolchildren would no longer be directly certified for free school meals based on their family’s participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program if proposed rules take effect. That’s about twice as many as USDA officials said in July, Politico reported.

“This is a jarring admission by the administration’s own analysts of the real damage the President’s policies will do to our youngest and most vulnerable citizens,” said Marcia Fudge, Chairwoman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight and Department Operations. “The analysis more than doubles the figures USDA first estimated, and now shows almost a million students will either lose their free school meals entirely, or have to jump through additional bureaucratic hoops to recertify their eligibility. That creates yet another barrier from this administration between working families and the help they need. Also, this is information that should have been included in the initial regulatory impact analysis, and it was completely dishonest for USDA to omit it. Not only does USDA know the president’s proposal will hurt our children, it also appears the department is doing everything it can to obscure the real effects of those numbers from the public.”

USDA said its proposal could cut $90 million a year from the cost of its school lunch and breakfast programs, which last year was more than $18 billion, according to the New York Post.

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