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Child Nutrition Reauthorization


The National School Lunch Program was established in 1946 as part of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act and while the authorizing Act has taken many names since then, the primary objective has always been to facilitate the planning of well-balanced meals in schools across the nation.

New Meal Pattern and Dietary Specifications.
USDA has announced the new nutrition standards for meals served through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs. The new meal requirements will raise standards for the first time in fifteen years and will help improve the health and nutrition of nearly 32 million kids that participate in school meal programs every school day. The new meal pattern and dietary specifications, an implementation timeline and a comparison of current and new regulatory requirements are posted on theUSDA website.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture establishes meal patterns with minimum food component requirements based on nutrition science at the time. As modern science and research progress, so do the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. School Meal Patterns must be updated to reflect the changes to the Dietary Guidelines.


Under the Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act of 2010, the reauthorization will provide funding for federal school meal and child nutrition programs, including $4.5 billion in new funding over 10 years. It will increase the federal reimbursement rate for school lunches by 6 cents for districts that comply with federal nutrition standards.

The reauthorization also gives the USDA authority to set nutritional standards for all foods sold in schools, including in vending machines, a la carte lunch lines and school stores, and requires that school districts have a program review every three years to improve compliance with operation and nutrition standards. Currently, programs in South Dakota are reviewed every five years.

Reauthorization will eventually increase the number of eligible children enrolled in school meal programs by approximately 115,000 students, using Medicaid data to directly certify children who meet income requirements and will allow more universal meal access for eligible students in high-poverty communities by eliminating paper applications and using census data to determine school-wide income eligibility.

Reauthorization will also mandate that programs will provide training and technical assistance for school food service providers and requires USDA to establish a program of required education, training and certification for school food service directors. Schools will be required to make information more readily available to parents about the nutritional quality of meals.

Schools will also have to provide free potable water wherever student meals are served. These changes are likely a year out, as the new standards must go through a public comment period and a method for determining compliance must be developed. Implementation is expected in the 2012-13 school year.


Contact the Child and Adult Nutrition office at the South Dakota Department of Education, (605) 773-3413 for more information.