Media Contact:

Jordan Baker

Statement attributable to Luis Guardia, President, Food Research & Action Center (FRAC)  

WASHINGTON, February 4, 2022 — The Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) commends the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on its announcement that the agency will embark on a multi-step process to update school nutrition standards. As a first step, USDA has issued a “short-term” bridge rule, establishing transitional standards for milk, whole grains, and sodium; making important nutrition improvements while maintaining some continuity for school meal rules over the next two school years.

Now, at least 80 percent of grains — such as breads and cereals – served for school breakfast and lunch will be whole grain, as opposed to only half the servings. There also will be a small but important decrease in sodium in the second year of the bridge rule. Schools offering flavored milk must also offer unflavored milk.

The transitional nutrition standards will help school meal providers prepare for a healthier future and continue their heroic efforts in keeping children nourished amidst supply chain disruptions and staff shortages resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The bridge rule will allow USDA the time needed for a comprehensive public engagement and regulatory process toward a permanent and complete update of the nutrition standards.

FRAC has long called for the protection and implementation of healthier nutrition standards for school meals. School meals are especially important for low-income children who are vulnerable to poor nutrition because of risk factors associated with poverty. These meals fuel children’s health and learning by reducing hunger, decreasing childhood obesity, improving child nutrition, and enhancing child development and school readiness.

We commend the USDA and the Biden administration for taking action to get the regulatory process back on track and to focus on the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans in order to inform healthy nutrition standards. While research shows that children receive their healthiest meals at school, there are still opportunities for improvement.

FRAC also is pleased that USDA announced a new initiative designed to solicit stakeholder input to help inform the new updated evidence-based school nutrition standards. FRAC will lead efforts to bring the voices of parents, children and community leaders into this information-gathering process. This will be a critical time for key stakeholders across the country and we must ensure that racial equity is at the crux of our work during this process.

In fall 2022, USDA will move to the next phase of the regulatory process and begin publishing proposed, comprehensive, and updated nutrition standard rules. They will solicit comments and publish a new final permanent rule by the 2024–2025 school year.

FRAC looks forward to working with USDA to support the development of robust nutrition standards that reflect the voices of parents, advocates, and community leaders. During this period, FRAC will work with its nationwide network of allies and national partners to develop and offer input in the interest of improving children’s health.


The Food Research & Action Center improves the nutrition, health, and well-being of people struggling against poverty-related hunger in the United States through advocacy, partnerships, and by advancing bold and equitable policy solutions. To learn more, visit and follow us on Twitter and on Facebook.