For the last year or so, the School Nutrition Association has been intent on creating the impression that school children are running away in droves from the new, healthier school food mandated by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. This characterization, if true, would provide the food-industry-backed SNA with a strong justification for rolling back several key nutritional standards in Congress in the coming year.
But a new report by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) turns the SNA’s story on its head. FRAC’s long-term data analysis finds that school meal participation among low-income children — the very children the NSLP was designed to serve — has actually increased significantly in recent years, while participation among higher income children has dropped, likely due to changes in meal pricing and the lure of competitive foods. Most importantly, both of these trends, according to FRAC’s analysis, were well in the works many years before the new school meal standards were introduced in the 2012-13 school year.
Reports like this will be critical in fighting back against SNA’s high powered lobbyists, who are already gearing up to weaken meal standards during the upcoming Child Nutrition Reauthorization in Congress. But as FRAC’s data show, low-income children need school meals that are as nutritious as possible – now more than ever.
I encourage you to read the whole report, here.