(October 19, 2011)—The US Senate approved an amendment that effectively lifts USDA’s proposed meal pattern restrictions on starchy vegetables served in school meals. The amendment, offered by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo, passed during debate on the Fiscal Year 2012 Agriculture Appropriations Bill.
Specifically, the amendment prohibits the use of funds to implement a rule that sets maximum limits on the serving of vegetables in school meal programs or is inconsistent with the recommendations of the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans for vegetables. While SNA agreed with Senator Collins desire to increase the amount of starchy vegetables that could be served, SNA supported USDA completing the regulatory review process and issuing a revised rule based on the comments submitted.
The Senate is expected to complete action on this appropriations bill this week. Once the Senate completes debate and passes the bill, a conference committee will be assigned to resolve the differences between the House and Senate bills. When the final bill is drafted, it must be approved by both Houses of Congress before being sent to the President for his signature. SNA will keep members apprised of any new developments.
In the meantime, SNA stands behind the 11 page comments the Association submitted in response to the proposed rule. USDA is taking all comments under consideration as they work toward a final meal pattern update. SNA strongly supports this process and full completion of the regulatory process so that federal nutrition standards will be in line with the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans.