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Senate panel adopts amendment to relax school lunch rules

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The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday adopted a GOP amendment that would provide schools flexibility in meeting Department of Agriculture (USDA) rules for serving whole-grain products and reducing sodium levels.

The amendment from Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) was adopted in a voice vote during the markup of a bill that would fund the USDA and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the next fiscal year.

“It addresses both the whole-grains requirement for cereal grain products, bread products and then also the sodium issue,” Hoeven said.

{mosads}Under his proposal, if schools have trouble meeting the requirement that 100 percent of cereal grain products be whole-grain enriched, they can obtain a waiver so that they only have a 50 percent requirement.

Another provision would prevent sodium reduction levels from further expanding until scientific research is done to ensure it’s a viable requirement for schools to meet.

“We’ve reduced sodium significantly by going to the Target 1 level,” Hoeven added.

He had introduced a bill earlier this year that would revise these rules so that they return to 2012 standards.

This comes as Congress must reauthorize the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 by Sept. 30.

Hoeven said he’s been working closely with Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, to prepare for a reauthorization. 

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