USDA seeks comment on school meal ‘child nutrition food crediting’ |

USDA seeks comment on school meal ‘child nutrition food crediting’

Brandon Lipps

The Agriculture Department invited the public to submit ideas on food crediting, the system that defines how each food item fits into a meal for the National School Lunch Program and other federal child nutrition programs.

The questions on the survey include many items that have been controversial in the school meals rules that were developed under the 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act championed by former First Lady Michelle Obama.

"Serving meals to kids that are wholesome, nutritious and tasty is a top USDA priority, and we can best accomplish that goal by listening to the voices of our many stakeholders," said Brandon Lipps, acting deputy undersecretary of USDA's Food Nutrition and Consumer Services.

"This is an opportunity to improve customer service by helping our agency gain a better understanding of America's thoughts, as well as gathering innovative ideas from all who care about our children's nutritional needs."

To claim federal reimbursement for food served through one of USDA's child nutrition programs, program operators must serve meals and snacks that meet each program's specific meal pattern requirements, USDA said in a news release.

USDA's crediting system defines how each food item fits into the meal pattern.

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"USDA is using this request for information as a systematic and transparent method to ensure each stakeholder has the chance to share their thoughts and opinions on crediting and gather ideas that maximize program operators' ability to serve healthy, appealing meals," the release added.

USDA is especially interested in understanding both the possible benefits and any negative impacts associated with possible changes to how certain foods may or may not credit. This would affect USDA's Child and Adult Care Food Program and Summer Food Service Program in addition to the school meals programs, Lipps noted.

"This is an important issue," Lipps said. "How food is credited plays a critical role in what America's children eat at school, in daycare, and during the summer. Crediting decisions have an impact on schools and daycares, industry, and most importantly, our children, so we want to be as informed as possible."

Electronic comments are preferred and may be submitted online at the Federal Register through Feb. 12, 2018.