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AAP Statement Opposing USDA's Flexibility on School Meal Nutrition Standards

5/3/2017 by: Fernando Stein, MD, FAAP, President, American Academy of Pediatrics

"Children typically consume up to half of their daily calories in school, and we have an obligation to ensure those meals are healthy and nutritious. With one in five children living in a household where food is scarce, and nearly one in three children and adolescents overweight or obese, now is not the time to replace healthy, nutritious foods in schools with unhealthy, nutrient-poor options. The announcement unveiled this week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) would do just that, allowing schools to once again provide less healthy meal options for students.

"For some children, the only food they eat each day comes from the federal school meals program. They rely on these meals to give them the right balance of fruits, vegetables and whole grains so they can concentrate and succeed in school. Healthy eating habits start early and schools have an important role to play. In fact, schools have been strong partners in this effort; nearly 100% of schools have successfully implemented new nutritional standards for fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lower sodium. Parents, teachers and students themselves are experiencing healthier eating habits because of the higher nutrition standards for foods sold in schools.

"USDA's announcement sends the wrong message to schools, to parents and to children. The American Academy of Pediatrics opposes USDA's decision and will continue to advocate for strong policies that expand access to healthy foods for children and families."

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The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 66,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org and follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds.

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