Report at a Glance
Recommendation 1. The Food and Nutrition Service of USDA should adopt the Nutrient Targets as the scientific basis for setting standards for menu planning for school meals but should not adopt a nutrient-based standard for school meal planning and monitoring.
Recommendation 2. To align school meals with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and improve the healthfulness of school meals, the Food and Nutrition Service should adopt standards for menu planning that increase the amounts of fruits, vegetables and whole grains; increase the focus on reducing the amounts of saturated fat and sodium provided; and set a minimum and maximum level of calories.
Recommendation 3. To achieve a reasonable balance between the goals of reducing waste and preserving the nutritional integrity of school meals, the Food and Nutrition Service, in conjunction with state and local educational agencies and students, should weigh the strengths and limitations of the committee’s two options when setting standards for the meals as selected by the student.
Recommendation 4. The Food and Nutrition Service, working together with state agencies, professional organizations, and industry, should provide extensive support to enable food service operators to adapt to the many changes required by revised Meal Requirements. The types of support required include the following:
Technical assistance for developing and continuously improving menus, ordering appropriate foods (including the writing of specifications), and controlling costs while maintaining quality.
New procedures for monitoring the quality of school meals that (1) focus on meeting relevant Dietary Guidelines and (2) provide information for continuous quality improvement and for mentoring food service workers to assist in performance improvement.
Recommendation 5. USDA should work cooperatively with Health and Human Services, the food industry, professional organizations, state agencies, advocacy groups, and parents to develop strategies and incentives to reduce the sodium content of prepared foods and to increase the availability of whole grain-rich products while maintaining acceptable palatability, cost, and safety.
Recommendation 6. The Food and Drug Administration should take action to require labeling for the whole grain content of food products.