Press release

American Diabetes Association® Strongly Opposes USDA's Proposed School Meal Standards Changes

April 23, 2020 | Arlington, Virginia

The USDA’s proposed changes would result in negative implications for the lifelong health of millions and for the trajectory of diabetes in the United States

The American Diabetes Association® (ADA) submitted a formal comment yesterday expressing strong opposition to a proposed rule from the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) seeking to weaken nutrition standards in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP). If the proposed rule is implemented it will not only undercut the fight against diabetes, but also fail to protect the children who rely heavily on these programs.

Meals served by the NSLP and SBP today must follow meal patterns that ensure sound, balanced nutrition, based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. However, the USDA’s proposed rule includes several changes that widen the gap between the operation of USDA’s school nutrition programs and the scientific evidence reflected in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, including:

  • requiring lower amounts of red or orange vegetables in school lunches; 
  • requiring less fruit when schools operate innovative breakfast in the classroom programs; 
  • further reduction in the variety of vegetables served at breakfast; 
  • and loosening Smart Snacks rules that govern the sale of other foods in schools.

“In 2018, nearly 30 million children participated in the National School Lunch Program and almost 15 million participated in the School Breakfast Program,” said LaShawn McIver, MD, MPH, ADA’s Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and Advocacy. “Given the reach of these programs, the policies governing the food and beverages served have lasting impacts on the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. If USDA weakens these policies, there will be negative implications for the lifelong health of millions of children who participate in these programs. This not only puts our children at risk but holds the potential to drastically increase the trajectory of diabetes in the United States.” 

To reduce obesity and type 2 diabetes risk throughout the lifespan and to help prevent or postpone onset of type 2 diabetes in children today, science-based nutrition standards should be strengthened, not undermined. Therefore, having strong nutritional standards in schools is crucial as it can produce dietary improvements that are associated with lower diabetes risk. 

The ADA strongly urges that the USDA not implement this rule and instead support polices that promote nutritious meal patterns in schools. 

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About the American Diabetes Association
Every day more than 4,000 people are newly diagnosed with diabetes in America. More than 122 million Americans have diabetes or prediabetes and are striving to manage their lives while living with the disease. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) is the nation’s leading voluntary health organization fighting to bend the curve on the diabetes epidemic and help people living with diabetes thrive. For nearly 80 years the ADA has been driving discovery and research to treat, manage and prevent diabetes, while working relentlessly for a cure. We help people with diabetes thrive by fighting for their rights and developing programs, advocacy and education designed to improve their quality of life. Diabetes has brought us together. What we do next will make us Connected for Life. To learn more or to get involved, visit us at or call 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383). Join the fight with us on Facebook (American Diabetes Association), Twitter (@AmDiabetesAssn) and Instagram (@AmDiabetesAssn).