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School Nutrition USDA Has Efforts Underway to Help Address Ongoing Challenges Implementing Changes in Nutrition Standards

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2010 required USDA to update nutrition standards for school lunches and breakfasts and add standards for other food sold in schools, known as competitive foods. In response, USDA set new nutrition requirements, including limits on calories, sodium, and fats. Previously, GAO reported on the implementation of changes to school lunches in school year 2012-2013. Since then, ad 2010 required USDA to update nutrition standards for school lunches and breakfasts and add standards for other food sold in schools, known as competitive foods. In response, USDA set new nutrition requirements, including limits on calories, sodium, and fats. Previously, GAO reported on the implementation of changes to school lunches in school year 2012-2013. Since then, additional requirements for lunches have taken effect, as well as new requirements for breakfasts and competitive foods. GAO was asked to review implementation of the nutrition changes to school food. GAO reviewed (1) recent trends in school meals participation, (2) challenges SFAs faced in implementing the new requirements for school meals, (3) challenges SFAs and districts faced in implementing new requirements for competitive foods, and (4) USDA assistance in implementing the changes. GAO reviewed relevant federal laws, regulations, and guidance; analyzed federal school meals participation data from school years 2000-2001 through 2013-2014; reviewed implementation in the same eight school districts visited for the report on school year 2012-2013 lunch changes, selected to provide variation in geographic location and certain district and food service characteristics; and interviewed USDA and state officials, as well as food industry and stakeholder groups


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2010 required USDA to update nutrition standards for school lunches and breakfasts and add standards for other food sold in schools, known as competitive foods. In response, USDA set new nutrition requirements, including limits on calories, sodium, and fats. Previously, GAO reported on the implementation of changes to school lunches in school year 2012-2013. Since then, ad 2010 required USDA to update nutrition standards for school lunches and breakfasts and add standards for other food sold in schools, known as competitive foods. In response, USDA set new nutrition requirements, including limits on calories, sodium, and fats. Previously, GAO reported on the implementation of changes to school lunches in school year 2012-2013. Since then, additional requirements for lunches have taken effect, as well as new requirements for breakfasts and competitive foods. GAO was asked to review implementation of the nutrition changes to school food. GAO reviewed (1) recent trends in school meals participation, (2) challenges SFAs faced in implementing the new requirements for school meals, (3) challenges SFAs and districts faced in implementing new requirements for competitive foods, and (4) USDA assistance in implementing the changes. GAO reviewed relevant federal laws, regulations, and guidance; analyzed federal school meals participation data from school years 2000-2001 through 2013-2014; reviewed implementation in the same eight school districts visited for the report on school year 2012-2013 lunch changes, selected to provide variation in geographic location and certain district and food service characteristics; and interviewed USDA and state officials, as well as food industry and stakeholder groups

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