April 13, 2011

Julie Brewer
Chief, Policy and Program Development Branch
Child Nutrition Division, FNS, Dept. of Agriculture
3101 Park Center Drive, Room 640
Alexandria, VA 22302-1594

Dear Ms. Brewer:

NCSL appreciates all of the effort put in to producing regulatory guidance for the implementation of P.L.111-296, The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. We are writing to comment on the proposed rule revising the meal patterns and nutrition requirements for the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program (7 CFR Parts 210 and 220). NCSL supports the state/federal partnership to provide nutrition assistance to those in need. We have a longstanding policy on school lunch and school breakfast programs as critically important to the well-being, education and ultimate future self-sufficiency of young children. 

NCSL appreciates that this rule sets a floor, rather than a ceiling, for nutrition standards for the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. However, we urge you to reconsider the importance of maintaining state flexibility as you review this regulation, guidance, and comments. Additionally, it is critical that the U.S. Department of Agriculture examines the costs of implementing the changes to the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs as a result of this new guidance. States have made significant budget cuts over the last several years and our budget forecast does not show a return to normalcy for the next two to four years. NCSL cannot support cost-shifts to the states. A recent NCSL report notes that state budget gaps are projected for the next three fiscal years (through 2013). In general, states are not in a position to finance these changes.

We look forward to working with you on the implementation of P.L.111-296. To discuss this further, please contact either Sheri Steisel (sheri.steisel@ncsl.org) or Emily Wengrovius (emily.wengrovius@ncsl.org) or by calling (202)624-5400.

Sincerely,

Molly Ramsdell
Director, Washington D.C. Office