WASHINGTON – Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee Republican Leader Senator John Boozman (R-AR) sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack requesting an extension of the review period for the proposed rule, “Child Nutrition Programs: Revisions to Meal Patterns Consistent With the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.” The rule’s revisions to meal patterns will have significant impact on school meals, so the lawmakers argue Congress, schools, and stakeholders need more time to review fully the implications of the proposed rule.
In the letter, the lawmakers write: “Because the administration’s proposed rule has considerable national implications, Congress and the public need additional time to consider and provide feedback on these changes. For this reason, we request an extension of the public comment period by an additional 30 days, from 60 days to 90 days.”
The lawmakers continue: “Schools shuttered by the COVID-19 pandemic three years ago are still struggling to return to a sense of normalcy. … Implementing substantial changes to school meal requirements will force district leaders to focus less on students’ academic progress and more on securing funding and workers to meet the demands of these regulations. This shift in attention could prove detrimental to overall student achievement. … While dictating policy on paper is easy, school districts will need adequate time to assess the extensive practical implications of these revisions.”
The lawmakers conclude: “Beginning in school year 2024-2025, it is estimated that this rulemaking will cost schools between $0.03 and $0.04 per meal served. … This will result in additional expenditures between $220 and $274 million annually, which equates to $1.4 billion over six school years. … Since this regulation will unquestionably have a significant impact on child nutrition, child education, and taxpayers, we request an additional 30 days for the public to review and offer input.”
Read the full letter here.