Release | November 25, 2020

Mission: Readiness Statement on USDA Rollback of School Meal Nutrition Standards

Wednesday, November 25 – The retired admirals and generals of Mission: Readiness are concerned by a rule proposed yesterday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that would once again seek to implement harmful rollbacks of nutrition standards for school meals. With food insecurity on the rise due to COVID-19, the USDA should be prioritizing increasing access to nutritious school meals instead of renewing efforts to weaken nutrition standards.

This proposed rule would extend USDA provisions that allow for relaxed whole grain and sodium standards, and allow for the inclusion of low-fat flavored milk in school meals. Mission: Readiness members have previously opposed additional efforts by the USDA to rollback nutrition standards, and will continue to strongly oppose these efforts.

As we have warned for more than a decade, child nutrition programs play a critical role in safeguarding America’s national security. Currently 1 in 3 young Americans are disqualified from military service because they are too overweight or obese. Further, obesity puts recruits at a greater risk of injury while they are serving. In order to ensure that young people are prepared to succeed at whatever they choose, whether it is military service or another path, we should focus on further improving the nutritional value of school meals and not reducing it.

We strongly encourage the incoming administration to seriously consider the implications that school nutrition standards have on the health of our nation and the future strength of our national security. We look forward to working closely with the USDA as well as the 117th Congress to support efforts that would strengthen nutrition standards and provide young people with access to fresh and nutritious school meals.

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