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USDA Proposed Rule on Meal Flexibilities

On November 24, 2020, the Federal Register was updated to release the final rule titled Child Nutrition Programs: Rescission of Milk, Whole Grains, and Sodium Flexibilities: Notice of Vacatur External link opens in new window or tab..

This final rule removes from the Code of Federal Regulations the final rule published on December 12, 2018, titled, “Child Nutrition Programs: Flexibilities for Milk, Whole Grains, and Sodium Requirements.” This action responds to a decision of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland that vacated the rule. It adds back the stricter 2012 Final Rule language for child nutrition programs for grains, milk, and sodium.

Please note that if your program is currently operating meal service under the COVID-19 Nationwide Meal Pattern Waiver, effective through June 30, 2021, this decision will not impact your current meal service.

If you have not yet submitted a meal pattern waiver and would like to, or if you need to update your current waiver, please complete the California Department of Education COVID-19 CNP Meal Pattern Waiver Application.

However, also on November 24, 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a proposed rule to reinstate those meal pattern flexibilities that were just vacated. This proposed rule is titled Restoration of Milk, Whole Grains, and Sodium Flexibilities External link opens in new window or tab..

Stakeholders are encouraged to provide input during a 30-day public comment period that starts 11/25/2020 and ends 12/28/2020. Proposed flexibilities include:

  • Allowing National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) operators to permanently offer flavored, low-fat milk as part of a reimbursable meal and for sale as a competitive beverage

  • Allowing flavored, low-fat milk in the Special Milk Program for Children and in the Child and Adult Care Food Program for participants ages 6 and older

  • Allowing for only half of the weekly grains in the NSLP and SBP menus to be whole grain-rich

  • Providing schools participating in the NSLP and SBP more time for gradual sodium reduction by
    • Retaining Sodium Target 1 through the end of School Year (SY) 2023-2024
    • Continuing to Target 2 in SY 2024-2025
    • Eliminating the Final Target
Contact Information

If you have questions regarding this information listed above, please contact the Nutrition Services Division by email at

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Monday, November 30, 2020
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