Gov't relaxes healthy standard for school meals
- Author: Santos West May 02, 2017,
May 02, 2017, 16:44
In a measure created to reduce constraints on public education while enticing more students to consume school lunches, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue signed the USDA Commitment to School Meals proclimation at a ceremony at Catoctin Elementary School May 1. The SNA, whose CEO Patricia Montague stood alongside Perdue Monday to announce the changes, particularly singled out the rule about whole grains, which it said many schools considered a costly "burden". As the Trump administration seeks to undo as much of its predecessor's work as possible, the next item in its crosshairs has emerged: healthy school lunches for children. It will also enable schools to bring back 1% milk and will freeze the restrictions on sodium that were scheduled to tighten again this coming year. Throughout the visit, Perdue outlined principles to provide schools greater flexibility while maintaining the nutritional standards of the program.
Changes could be coming to school lunches under President Donald Trump's administration, but the Los Angeles Unified School District said it will keep serving healthy meals to students. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), who was in Leesburg for the ceremony. And they can skip the whole grains and replace the non-fat milk with 1 percent.
The regulations were also wildly disliked by food trade groups like the dairy industry and the School Nutrition Association (SNA), which represents the school lunch industry including large food companies, that said the rules were so expensive to implement that they "threatened" the lunch program.
The proclamation was the first significant act by the department under Perdue. Perdue, a former governor of Georgia, was confirmed as the new head of the USDA last week more than three months after the departure of Tom Vilsack.
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.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C., hosted a question-and-answer session with students in FFA chapters from Indiana, Iowa, Virginia, Delaware, Wisconsin and Colorado. It aimed to help transform the school food environment in order to promote better nutrition built upon recommendations from the Institute of Medicine. "We have been wanting flexibility so that schools can serve meals that are both nutritious and palatable".
"We are hearing that the cost of compliance in some areas, particularly the procurement of whole grains, whether it be pasta, dealing with whole grains is more problematic", Perdue said. "I don't want to see all our efforts as a country undermined by this administration".
"Eating behaviors established in childhood lay the foundation for eating habits throughout life, and of course for health", she said.
The bill, which keeps the federal government funded through September 30, also would push back deadlines for schools to meet lower sodium levels.
The secretary continued, "No way we are not unwinding any nutritional standards at all. We're giving these workers the flexibility to move". "What the idea actually boils down to is local flexibility and trusting people in the lunchrooms across America to do the right thing". Schools are now scheduled to meet "target two" requirements.