More than 21.8 million school-age children receive free or reduced-price school lunch and 12.6 million children receive free or reduced-price breakfast each day. Since updated nutrition standards for school meals, snack foods, and beverages have been implemented following passage of the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, a growing body of evidence shows their effectiveness in improving the nutritional quality of foods served and sold at schools, and in increasing school meal participation rates. In January 2020, USDA proposed several reforms to these school nutrition standards. In an effort to inform the USDA as it considers these latest program changes, and to better understand how the proposed reforms may impact the nutritional quality of school meals, school meal participation, student consumption and health, and academic performance, Healthy Eating Research conducted a rapid Health Impact Assessment (HIA) of the nutrition provisions in USDA, FNS Proposed Rule 7 CFR Parts 210, 215, 220, 226, and 235: Simplifying Meal Service and Monitoring Requirements in the School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. This HIA finds that the proposed changes would adversely affect student’s health and academic performance, and that students from low-income families attending schools in African-American and rural neighborhoods are most likely to be impacted by the proposed changes.
An Executive Summary is also available.