SNA continues to receive inquiries regarding meal pattern requirements for school meal programs operating the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs (NSLP/SBP). In April 2020, a federal district court ruling struck down USDA’s 2018 final rule, Child Nutrition Programs: Flexibilities for Milk, Whole Grains, and Sodium Requirements. The ruling eliminated NSLP/SBP meal pattern flexibilities, reverting back to the 2012 meal patterns for grades K-12, which required flavored milk to be fat-free; all grains to be whole-grain rich; and school lunches and breakfasts to meet sodium target 2.
However, USDA’s COVID–19: Nationwide Waiver to Allow Meal Pattern Flexibility in the Child Nutrition Programs waived for all states the requirement to serve meals that meet the meal patterns during school year 2020-21. USDA is allowing school meal programs to use this meal pattern flexibility if they cannot meet the 2012 meal pattern requirements. In the August 21, 2020 FNS document, Questions and Answers for the Child Nutrition Programs during School Year 2020-2021 – #5, FNS addresses the issue on pages 5 and 6. School nutrition professionals operating NSLP/SBP should contact their State agencies for more information on the waiver process.