USDA is expected to provide guidance to menu planning software developers in May 2019 for its new child nutrition requirements for 2019-20. As soon as we receive our instructions, we’ll begin work to get the child nutrition standards updated in our menu planning software for the 2019-20 school year. For now, you can use the current standards to begin planning menus for next year and simply update them once the child nutrition requirements 2019-20 are available in Health-e Meal Planner.

New flexibilities for milk, whole grain, and sodium are the following:

  • Milk for National School Breakfast Program and National School Lunch Program expands to now offer flavored, low-fat milk. For consistency across nutrition programs, it will also allow flavored, low-fat milk in the Special Milk Program for Children and in the Child and Adult Care Food Program for participants ages 6 and older.
  • Half of the weekly grains in the school lunch and breakfast menu must be whole grain-rich, thus ending the need for the exemption process.
  • More time for gradual sodium reduction by retaining Sodium Target 1 through the end of school year (SY) 2023-2024, continuing to Target 2 in SY 2024-2025.

Read the final rule here.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says, “USDA is committed to serving meals to kids that are both nutritious and satisfying. These common-sense flexibilities provide excellent customer service to our local school nutrition professionals, while giving children the world-class food service they deserve.”

A survey by SNA in 2018 found that 92 percent of responding districts were concerned about the availability of food to meet future sodium limits, and 65 percent reported challenges with the mandate that all grains must be whole-grain rich. With the new flexibilities, schools will have more options to serve during National School Lunch Program and National School Breakfast Program.

Watch this space to see updates for when 2019-20 child nutrition requirements are offered in our menu planning software.