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New School-Lunch Rules Proposed

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture has proposed the first major reorganization in a decade of the regulations for its $3.6-billion National School Lunch Program.

The proposed changes, announced in the Feb. 12 Federal Register, are intended primarily to clarify and streamline current rules and resolve inconsistencies in the more than 60 amendments that have been made to the regulations in the past 10 years, said Gene Vincent, a spokesman for the department.

But they would also produce budgetary savings by eliminating the federal reimbursement to schools that offer a second meal in the same school day. The department has not yet estimated exactly how much the savings will be, Mr. Vincent said.

Under the current school-lunch rules, a school can offer a child a second meal from leftovers and be reim-bursed. Under the new rules, a school could offer the meal but would not be reimbursed.

According to the Federal Register, "[C]oncern has been expressed that, at this time of limited federal resources, this [reimbursement] provision is contrary to the national effort to reduce waste."

The proposed regulations would also require schools to make substitutions in foods for special-education students if needed; the current regulations simply state that a school "may" make changes. Mr. Vincent said the change would bring the regulations into compliance with the department's nondiscrimination rules.

Comments on the proposed rules can be sent until April 15 to Diane Berger, child-nutrition division, Food and Nutrition Service, usda, Alexandria, Va., 22301.--at

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