Congressman Eliot L. Engel and Congressman Adriano Espaillat lead the New York Democrats’ letter calling on the USDA to withdraw a proposed rule that would roll back nutrition requirement standards for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP). The proposed rule will allow schools to offer less nutritious meals by reducing fruit requirements for breakfasts, and substituting starchier vegetables in lunches for students who depend on reduced or free meals.
“I worked hard with my colleagues in Congress to pass bipartisan legislation to improve school meals in 2010, and now the Trump Administration is undoing that progress, and offering far less nutritious meals,” Engel said. “Reducing the nutritional value of a student’s meals is simply wrong and unacceptable. Millions of students in New York State depend on these lunches and breakfasts, as they are often the only nutritional food they will have each day. If this rule is finalized, it will impact over 118 million breakfasts, and over 220 million lunches across the state. This is a backwards rule change and should be withdrawn immediately.”
“These proposed changes to limit or reduce the variety of fruits and vegetables available to students participating in the national school lunch and breakfast programs weakens the bipartisan and consensus recommendations that students, families, and educators agree are worthwhile and working,” said Rep. Adriano Espaillat. “Food insecurity is a very real challenge for many families and school meal programs offer some children their only guaranteed meals daily. We recognize this challenge and have at the local, city, and state levels made it a priority to ensure that healthy and nutritious school-based meals are widely available to New York students. This latest proposed rule from the administration does not strengthen the nutrition standards of school-based meals but rather allows for less healthy and high-calorie alternatives and substitutions to replace healthy fruits and vegetables. I am proud to join Congressman Eliot L. Engel in leading this letter with members of the New York Delegation urging the United States Department of Agriculture to halt and reverse its proposed action. We should be improving and raising nutrition standards that best meet the physical and cognitive needs of healthy and developing students from their early years through adolescence and into adulthood. Our students and families deserve nothing less.