Trump administration to roll back some school meal standards
- Author: Leroy Wright May 02, 2017,
May 02, 2017, 12:05
The standards, created under the authority of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, were praised by organizations concerned about childhood obesity, but education and industry groups said compliance has been costly and hard for many schools.
"Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) will make the announcement to give schools more flexibility in meeting federal nutrition standards for school lunches while dining at the Catoctin Elementary School in Leesburg, Va. Republicans have always been trying to dial back the standards that became a pillar of former first lady Michelle Obama's initiative to curb childhood obesity in the U.S".
Specifically, the changes on the way regard whole grains, salt and milk. Perdue, a former governor of Georgia, said some schools in the South have had problems with grits, because "the whole grain variety has little black flakes in it" and kids won't eat it.
With better school lunch standards, the USA had finally found one way to confront the obesity crisis that was working. Over the past few years, the senator has toured schools in Kansas to sample meals and talk to students and administrators.
The senator said his staff worked with Perdue and the congressional committees in charge of agriculture appropriations to ensure that the language loosening school lunch rules made it into the 2017 spending bill. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., after signing an interim rule created to provide flexibility for school meals at Catoctin Elementary School in Leesburg, Va., Monday, May 1, 2017.
The Trump administration changes leave most of the Obama administration's school meal rules in place, including requirements that students must take fruits and vegetables on the lunch line.
"If kids aren't eating the food, and it's ending up in the trash, they aren't getting any nutrition - thus undermining the intent of the program", Perdue said. "A ideal example is in the south, where the schools want to serve grits".
"A flawless example is in the south, where the schools want to serve grits", said Perdue, a former governor of Georgia. The school is compliant with the whole-grain requirements, but no one is eating the grits.
But health experts aren't applauding the USDA moves.
As a result, the School Nutrition Association, a powerful lobbying group that represents food service workers and directors, has repeatedly asked USDA to revert to a less strict requirement for whole grains and to scrap the pending sodium reductions altogether. Domino's Pizza Inc delivers to schools as part of its "Smart Slice" program. "We have been wanting flexibility so that schools can serve meals that are both nutritious and palatable". Many Republicans opposed the guidelines and pressed the USDA to temporarily waive requirements for some school districts.
This decline means schools are not taking in as much money at the same time costs are rising, the agency said. She says her organization's members would like the "flexibility to offer a white tortilla or white rice".
"These changes are not undertaken lightly".
Connie Diekman directs university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis.
The fight over school lunches has lasted years.
"When we send our kids to school, we expect that they won't be eating the kind of fatty, salty, sugary foods that we try to keep them from eating at home", Obama said at the time. "And therefore I hope that USDA, and Congress, remain focused on meeting the guidelines set forth in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines".
Outside the building, around 30 protesters, some who have children at the elementary school, stood with signs urging officials to guarantee that children would receive healthy meals.
"We've seen a reduction in milk consumption in schools because of this policy", said Chris Galen, a senior vice president of communications for the National Milk Producers Federation. "We're giving these workers the flexibility to move". "These are not mandates on schools".
News that the Trump administration would be easing some of these recent regulations has been received with critical pushback from nutrition advocates.
"This administration's actions are directed by the food industry with no regard for the health and well-being of Americans", she said.
"Some people don't like regulations, but these are important regulations that impact kids", Burk said.