WASHINGTON -- Relief is on the way for school agencies unable to comply with the nutrition standards contained in the interim final rule of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, also known as "National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program."
As part of the recent Omnibus-funding bill passed in Congress, language was included to develop a waiver for the 2014-15 school year for school agencies that would face financial hardship through compliance. Eric Dell, National Automatic Merchandising Association vice-president of government affairs, explained that the bill's language stipulates that states will grant the waivers.
"We're encouraging our members to inform schools about this waiver. Once the specifics of the waiver process are disclosed, we will provide tools to our members to make this process as simple as possible," Dell said.
Congress urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture to implement the waiver program by April 17. Dell said he expects a number of schools, districts and agencies to apply for the waiver once it's implemented.
"NAMA worked with our industry partners on comments to the proposed rules to regulate competitive foods sold in schools, but the interim final rule was much more stringent than our recommendation," the NAMA official said. "While this waiver is just for the next school year, we hope to work together with industry partners, Congress and the USDA to find a long-term solution."