Academy Opposes USDA's Rollback of Professional Standards for School Nutrition

February 28, 2019

CHICAGO –The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics opposes a February 25 rule issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that weakens hiring standards in small school districts, the second regulatory rollback from the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act in the last three months.

The Academy supports strong hiring standards for school nutrition program directors and believes the USDA had offered the districts considerable hiring flexibility.

"The Academy is troubled by the collective impact the USDA’s action will have on children, especially since the diets of too many children continue to fall far short of recommendations for good health" said registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy President Mary Russell.

The Academy understands it can be difficult for even the most experienced school nutrition professional to encourage children to eat a healthy meal. This challenge, combined with the USDA’s decision to roll back the hiring standards and allow for unpaid or volunteer food service experience in place of specific expertise, is very concerning for the health of children.

The Academy urges school districts to recognize that the new, lower standards are merely minimum requirements, and to commit to hiring program directors with qualifications, skills and experience to ensure that students receive nutritious, appealing food that is cost-effective.


The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the Academy at