Pryor, Stabenow Respond to USDA Decision to Provide Schools Flexibility on Whole Grains

Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, and Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today responded to USDA’s decision to provide schools greater flexibility in meeting guidelines on whole grains in school meals. The decision, announced today by USDA, will allow schools struggling to find a suitable pasta product that meets whole grains standards the ability to apply for a temporary exemption from the whole grain standard. 

“Helping our kids succeed starts by giving them the fuel they need to stay full, healthy, and ready to learn. Unfortunately, our school districts have had difficulty implementing the National School Lunch Program’s new rules. Today’s announcement is a good first step, but I’ll continue to push to ensure our school districts have the flexibility they need to meet their goals and keep our kids healthy and successful,” Pryor said.

“I applaud USDA's decision to provide flexibility for schools on whole grains. This is an important step in continuing to help schools provide children with healthy and nutritious meals. Although the vast majority of schools are making great strides in serving healthy meals that kids enjoy, schools in Michigan and throughout the country are still struggling to serve some whole grain items like pasta. I have raised these concerns with the Secretary and I am pleased to see USDA is committed to making these standards work. Like the modification to meat and grain maximums, the change to whole grains shows that we can work together to address these issues when they arise without rolling back important steps we have taken to improve the foods kids eat throughout the school day,” Stabenow said.