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Chairman Roberts, Secretary Perdue Announce School Lunch Regulatory Flexibility

 WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, today joined U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in announcing much-needed regulatory flexibility for the National School Lunch Program.   

Secretary Perdue signed a proclamation that carries out the following, which Chairman Roberts has long raised concerns over:

  • A postponement of target II sodium requirements for three years,
  • An allowance for occasional non-whole grain rich products to be served, and
  • An allowance for 1 percent milkfat flavored milk to be served.

Chairman Roberts also ate a school lunch with elementary school students and visited with school meal providers at Catoctin Elementary School in Leesburg, Va. 

Below is Chairman Roberts’ remarks as prepared for delivery:

Thank you Secretary Perdue for your remarks, and thank you to the teachers, administrators, and everyone at Catoctin Elementary School for hosting us. I am glad to be here today, among the very folks this proclamation supports, for this important meal standards announcement. 

I am excited and relieved to finally be moving forward on this issue of school meal standards. Today’s proclamation announces much-needed flexibility for school food operators and schoolchildren across the country. 

I had the opportunity in the last Congress to visit schools across Kansas to eat lunch, from the rural town of Fowler to the large district of Olathe. Time and time again, I heard the same story: yes, we are serving more nutritious meals, but certain aspects of the standards have gone too far. Kids are rejecting the food, and we’re seeing a lot of it end up in the trash. 

We worked really hard the last two years to provide flexibility, but after unanimously passing a bipartisan bill out of Committee, our effort stalled. The policies that Secretary Perdue has declared here today will provide the flexibility to ensure that schools are able to serve nutritious meals that children will actually eat. Because that is really what these programs are about: serving meals to hungry children so that they can learn and grow.

It is sure nice to have the Secretary in place, and I am glad he has hit the ground running. 

Thank you for having me here today. 

Chairman Roberts has long been an advocate for flexibility in school meal standards, repeatedly calling on the Obama Administration to provide regulatory relief to local school districts. Roberts has joined students for lunch in both urban and rural areas in Kansas, listening to school nutritionists and students’ concerns regarding the Obama Administration’s rigid school meal standards.