Published: Sat, January 18, 2020
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

School Lunch Rules Set To Change : Shots

School Lunch Rules Set To Change : Shots

Some nutritionists are anxious children might eat more unhealthy food at school under the new rules.

Perdue's latest move to unwind Obama-era nutrition standards comes nearly two years after he restored local control of guidelines on whole grains, sodium, and milk in school meals.

Last year, as the Trump administration rolled back restrictions on milk and sodium content in school lunches, the USDA concluded in a report that the Obama lunch plan "had a positive and significant influence on nutritional quality", and cut down on "empty calories" served to students.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced proposed changes to school lunches, and Trump administration critics claim that loopholes will allow students to get their hands on less healthy food. "Young children especially need more exposure to unprocessed, easy-to-eat, fruits, vegetables, and greens".

The USDA proposes another rule regarding the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), which serves more than 2.6 million children during the summer months when they are at higher risk of poor nutrition because they do not have access to school meals.

For instance, instead of being required to offer higher quantities of nutrient-dense red and orange vegetables such as carrots, peppers and buttternut squash, schools would have more discretion over the varieties of vegetables they offer each day.

For breakfasts taken to go, fruit servings could be reduced from a cup to half a cup.

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As first lady, Obama championed healthier school meals as part of the "Let's Move" campaign.

The Trump administration in 2018 finalized its rollback of school lunch regulations under former President Barack Obama, which was later challenged in court by a group of states.

"Schools and school districts continue to tell us that there is still too much food waste and that more common-sense flexibility is needed to provide students nutritious and appetizing meals", writes Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in a release about the proposed meal reforms.

The 2010 Health, Hunger-Free Kids Act set nutrition standards for school meals, requiring schools to offer fruits and vegetables and more whole-grain foods and to limit calories, fat and sodium. Before the rule change, only fat-free flavored milk was permitted.

The proposal follows a spate of rule changes announced by Perdue in 2018 that weakened the whole grain requirements and gave school administrators more leeway to serve up white breads and biscuits.

Perdue introduced the proposed rules Friday during a round-table discussion held at an elementary school in Texas.

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