Updates to School Nutrition Standards

By Nirja Shah

Research shows that school meals are the most nutritious food source for American schoolchildren—thanks in large part to the work of school nutrition professionals, parents, school meal partners, the food industry, and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to make school meals healthier over the past decade.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) published the final rule titled, Child Nutrition Programs: Meal Patterns Consistent With the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which is the next step in continuing the science-based improvement of school meals and other USDA child nutrition programs (CNP), as well as advancing USDA’s commitment to nutrition security. The changes are based on a comprehensive review of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025, robust stakeholder input on the CNP meal patterns, and lessons learned from prior rulemakings. 

While this rulemaking is effective July 1, 2024, USDA is gradually phasing in required changes over time. Program operators are not required to make any changes to their menus as a result of this rulemaking until school year 2025-26 at the earliest.

Read more about Nutrition standards here