PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Students who get lunch at school may soon have a new food to choose from under a proposal from U.S. Sen. Jack Reed.

Reed believes more seafood should be served in schools to give children a more healthy and nutritious option.

“If you want kids to grow up healthy, we have to serve them healthy food that they’ll actually eat,” Reed said. “U.S. dietary guidelines recommend eating seafood two times a week, but the USDA only purchases enough seafood for about one serving per student for the entire year. That needs to change.”

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines suggest school-age children should eat 4 to 10 ounces of seafood per week.

However, Reed said a new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found the USDA only purchases about 3.4 ounces of seafood per student each year.

“Putting more seafood on the menu in school cafeterias is a win-win-win: It’s nutritious, cost-effective, and sustainable — so it’s good for kids, the economy, and the planet — and it tastes good too,” Reed explained.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Reed has been trying new ways to support fishermen and seafood processors, which included expanding the USDA’s seafood purchasing power.

Reed said the disparity between the USDA’s nutrition guidelines and how they are implementing them led him to write a letter with Sens. Jeff Merkley and Tammy Baldwin to the GAO requesting that they look into it.

“During the school year, participating students receive nearly two-thirds of their daily calories from school meals,” the letter reads. As a result, the GAO found the USDA “needs to increase the amount of protein-rich seafood offerings in school lunches.”

Now, Reed and Merkley are urging the USDA to follow through on the GAO’s findings and create a new plan.

“It is my hope that USDA will take steps to increase seafood availability for the millions of children across the nation who participate in the NSLP, while supporting our nation’s fishermen and seafood processors,” Reed added. “There are so many healthy, tasty, cost-effective seafood options out there that are simple to prepare and serve.”