One of the peculiar realities of the proposed rule to update the nutrition standards for school lunches is that none of the comments are available for public inspection. Typically, comments about proposed rules on www.regulations.gov are posted in near real time. But if you go to the site now and search for the proposed rule - Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs - you will see no public comments attached to it, even though the rule has most likely attracted many public comments already and may feature thousands of comments by the April 13 deadline.
I'm really not sure why USDA does it this way, and I don't like the cloak that hides the public comments until after the fact - I'm assuming the comments will be submitted for public review at a later date.
Still, there are some groups that are publicizing their comments about the proposed rule. One such group is the School Nutrition Association. I received an email this week with a short press release from group trumpeting the association's comments about the proposed rule.
I would put a lot of weight on the SNA's comments, representing as they do a significant stakeholder in the debate. Generally, they support the proposed rule, with some modifications and an altered time line. I will be anxious to see the official comments from the National Potato Council, United Fresh, PMA and others regarding the proposed rule. Pass those along to me when they are available!
Here is what the release from SNA said:
SNA Submits Comments on Proposed School Meal Standards
School nutrition professionals raise concerns about feasibility of meeting proposed standards on time
National Harbor, Md. (March 29, 2011) – The School Nutrition Association (SNA) has submitted comments to the US Department of Agriculture in response to the department’s proposed rule outlining new nutrition standards for school meals.
The comments, available at http://www.schoolnutrition.org/uploadedFiles/School_Nutrition/101_News/NewsArchives/SNA_News_Articles/SNAProposedSchoolMealPatternReqsComments.pdf?n=3060, express SNA’s support for the proposed rule’s goals of increasing student consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grains while reducing the sodium, calories and fat in school meals. Yet, the document raises concerns about schools’ ability to meet all the requirements within the proposed rule’s tight timetables.