The United States Department of Agriculture announced today they are making permanent the flexibility that allows schools to serve larger portions of protein and whole grains at meals.

Based on public feedback, USDA has made a number of updates to school meal standards, including additional flexibility in meeting the daily and weekly ranges for grain and meat/meat alternates which has been available to schools on a temporary basis since 2012, according to a news release.

In December, Rep. Kristi Noem introduced the Reducing Federal Mandates on School Lunch Act, which would make the USDA’s easing of the meat and grain requirements permanent through a legislative fix, allowing schools more flexibility in serving meats and grains while still staying within calorie maximums, as well as give administrators flexibility on some rules that have increased costs for school districts.

“Making sure our kids are healthy are a top priority, but making sure they don’t go hungry is critical as well,” Noem said in a statement Thursday night. “The USDA’s announcement comes after a tremendous amount of pressure from parents, school administrators and Congress. What they are offering is a step in the right direction and adopts some of the provisions offered in my bill to give relief.”

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