Senator Jon Tester today released the following statement after the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that it will allow schools in Montana and nationwide more flexibility when implementing new school lunch regulations. After hearing from Montana parents and students, Tester in November called on Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to change the new guidelines:
"Schools need flexibility to make sure kids get the nutrition they need to focus on their studies. I appreciate USDA's willingness to listen to Montana parents, teachers, and administrators and look forward to working with USDA to adjust these new guidelines so they work for all of our kids."
Tester told Vilsack in November that the guidelines treated students the same "without any consideration for gender, height, weight, or level of physical activity." The school lunch program serves about 80,000 Montana students daily, making a one-size-fits-all policy difficult to implement.
Tester also highlighted how rural schools often have trouble hiring enough staff to implement the recommended meal guidelines.