U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today issued the following statement in support of President Donald J. Trump’s National School Lunch Week Proclamation. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) celebrates food service professionals, school leaders, as well as the farmers, ranchers, and producers who grow the delicious, healthful, American-grown foods that kids enjoy every day in school lunches.
“At USDA we recognize the importance a healthy lunch has on millions of school children across our nation. Without a nutritious and wholesome lunch, students are not being set up for success. One of my first actions when I arrived at USDA was to give school food service professionals more local control – they’re the experts and know what their kids want to eat,” said Secretary Sonny Perdue. “The tireless efforts of school food service professionals deserve recognition and I thank them for their service to our country and their commitment to the future of our next generation.”
To help give school food workers the tools they need to do their jobs well with world-class customer service, USDA is offering additional flexibilities for serving school meals, as announced this month in new guidance provided to schools. These bring new opportunities to allow commercially produced smoothies to be included in school meals, provide more guidance on serving milk options, and allow for healthier, more innovative foods to be incorporated into meal plans. Schools are also now empowered with more resources to offer salad bars and better positioned to teach good eating habits to our nation’s children.
The flexibilities provided to school foodservice professionals recently expand on those USDA gave schools last December, when the department provided more options around milk, whole grains, and sodium. USDA continues to encourage schools to meet their children’s needs and tastes in these areas, while helping schools meet the recommended MyPlate dairy needs in their students’ diets.
USDA is also promoting Farm to School initiatives. This year’s Farm to School grants are the biggest ever awarded – with more than $9 million supporting programs across 42 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico – and will reach more than 3.2 million children in over 5,400 schools.
These grants increase the amount of local food in America’s schools, while helping young people foster healthy eating habits. They also create new economic opportunities for local farmers, ranchers, and producers and can inspire children to consider future careers in agriculture.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) works to reduce food insecurity and promote nutritious diets among the American people. The agency administers 15 nutrition assistance programs that leverage American’s agricultural abundance to ensure children and low-income individuals and families have nutritious food to eat. FNS also co-develops the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which provide science-based nutrition recommendations and serve as the cornerstone of federal nutrition policy.