FNS Permanently Eliminates Grain and Protein Maximums; Allows Sugar to Process Frozen Fruit in School Nutrition Programs

According to an advance copy of the rule made public earlier today, USDA's Food and Nutrition Service will be making permanent the elimination of weekly maximums on grains and meat/meat alternates, and the allowance of processing frozen fruit with sugar, within the National School Lunch Program. The rule will be published in the Federal Register on Friday, January 3.

Some of the key language follows from pages 7-8:

"Feedback on the memoranda concerning flexibility for weekly maximum grains and meat/meat alternates has been overwhelmingly positive, and there have been numerous requests to further extend this change. This new flexibility or measuring compliance has had a meaningful impact on the certification process by making it less complicated for school food authorities (SFAs) to be certified as compliant with the new meal pattern. Allowing for more grain and meat/meat alternates has also increased student acceptability of the new meals they are being served. Therefore, FNS is making this flexibility permanent by including it in this final rule at 7 CFR 210.7(d)(1). Because ongoing compliance with the meal patterns is assessed during administrative reviews, FNS is further extending this flexibility by including in the final rule at 7 CFR 210.18(g)(2)(vi). When conducting administrative reviews, State agencies should consider any SFA compliant with the weekly ranges for grains and meats if the weekly minimums are met. SFAs continue to be required to meet the weekly minimum and maximum range requirements for calories and the other dietary specifications."

From pages 9-10:

"In addition to the challenges associated with processing frozen fruit without sugar, allowing SFAs to use frozen fruit with added sugar will make it less complicated for SFAs to meet meal pattern requirements, and also expand the types of frozen fruit allowable in school meals. It is also consistent with canned fruits since some added sugar is allowed in canned products. Additionally, the calorie limits for meals help preserve the integrity of the updated nutrition standards, as schools have to plan menus and select products carefully, including frozen fruit with added sugar, in order to be in compliance with the standards. For those reasons, FNS is making this flexibility permanent by including it in this final rule at 7 CFR 210.7(d)(1)(iii)(B). Because ongoing compliance with the meal patterns is assessed during administrative reviews, FNS is further extending this flexibility by including it in the final rule at 7 CFR 210.18(g)(2)(vi). When conducting administrative reviews, State agencies should consider any SFA compliant with the meal pattern requirements even if the SFA serves frozen fruit containing added sugar. This flexibility is also applicable to fruit offered in the School Breakfast Program."

The pertinent rule language is as follows:

§210.7 Reimbursement for school food authorities.

* * * * *

(d) * * *

(1) * * *

(iii) State agencies must review certification documentation submitted by the school food authority to ensure compliance with meal pattern requirements set forth in §210.10, §220.8, or §220.23, as applicable. For certification purposes, State agencies should consider any school food authority compliant:

(A) If when evaluating daily and weekly range requirements for grains and meat/meat alternates, the certification documentation shows compliance with the daily and weekly minimums for these two components, regardless of whether the school food authority has exceeded the maximums for the same components.

(B) If when evaluating the service of frozen fruit, the school food authority serves products that contain added sugar.

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