Some school lunch rules rolled back by Trump Administration

On December 7, the Trump administration relaxed rules aimed at making school lunches healthier, affecting 30 million children annually, many of them from low-income homes. Kid-friendly favorites like noodles, tortillas, biscuits, pasta, and an overall abundance of refined grains will be returning to school menus. [1]

The Obama-era school lunch program was championed by former First Lady Michelle Obama, but the meals received harsh criticism for being, in many cases, laughably small and generally pretty … ‘disgusting.’

When Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue took office in May 2017, he promised to make school lunches both appetizing and nutritious.

He said in a statement:

“If kids are not eating what is being served, they are not benefiting, and food is being wasted.”

Michelle Obama’s intentions were good. The 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act reduced fat, sodium, and calories in school lunches, and required more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. But in many cases, the lunches looked like something you wouldn’t feed your dog.

The new offerings may be more appetizing, but they’re not exactly what you’d call “healthy.” Under the rules, school lunches must still reduce their sodium content, but they will have more time to do so. A final goal of limiting sodium will be scrapped.

Questionable Moves to Promote ‘Healthy’ Choices

Apparently, officials are still hanging onto outdated science, as the health risks of salt, once believed to raise blood pressure, and lead to heart attacks and stroke, are now in question. [1] [2]

Flavored low-fat milk will also make a reappearance on school menus, showing once again that the administration is behind the times when it comes to nutritional science. For instance, chocolate and other flavors add sugar to milk as it is. But low-fat and fat-free foods, including milk, already contain about 20% more sugar than full-fat foods, and they do little to keep young bellies feeling full. Previously, only fat-free milk could be flavored, as if that was somehow healthier. [1] [2]

Read: Harvard Scientists Urge You to Stop Drinking Sweetened Milk

The updated rules also dictate that only half the grains served will need to be whole grains. The move will get rid of a mandate requiring schools to obtain special waivers to serve select refined grain foods. [2]

The American Heart Association and the Center for Science in the Public Interest aren’t happy about the relaxed rules, with the latter group saying it makes no sense to roll back the whole grains requirement because most schools are already in compliance.

Yes, parents should expect their kids’ lunches to be appetizing and edible and, yes, reducing food waste is always a good thing. But perhaps the government could at least catch up to modern nutritional science and offer youngsters truly healthful foods that will keep them full so that they can function at the very highest levels in the classroom.

Sources:

[1] Reuters

[2] Associated Press