The USDA has announced flexibility in the child nutrition guidelines related to milk, sodium and whole grains for the 2018-2019 school year. [UPDATE: The USDA made the provisional flexibilities permanent in December. Read the final rule.]
Milk: Consistent with the flexibility announced by Secretary Perdue in 2016, flavored, low-fat (1%) milk can be offered by foodservice programs operating under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the School Breakfast Program (SBP) as well as the Special Milk Program and Child and Adult Care Food Program serving participants 6 years of age and older. Schools can also sell flavored, low-fat milk in their a la carte/Smart Snack offering.
Whole grains: School Food Authorities (SFAs) that can demonstrate hardship in adhering to the whole-grain-rich guidelines, that is the inability to procure qualifying whole-grain-rich products that are acceptable to students, may apply for an exemption from the guideline with their state agencies. SFAs approved for the exemption must offer at least half of the grains as whole-grain-rich.
Sodium: Sodium Target 1 will continue as the regulatory limit in the NSLP and SBP. Please refer to the table above for specific Target 1 limits per age category. Keep in mind, the sodium limit applies to the average meal offered during the school week, not to individual food items or meals.
The above provisions are only for the 2018-2019 school year. USDA will issue a forthcoming final rule announcing flexibilities beyond this year.