USDA Proposes Relaxing School Lunch Healthy Eating Rules

Opponents say changes would make it easier to choose pizza and burgers over balanced meals. USDA Proposes Relaxing School Lunch Healthy Eating Rules

Federal regulators proposed giving schools more flexibility for student meal programs, a move that opponents said could encourage less-healthy eating.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Friday that it plans to loosen rules on which vegetables schools are required to serve and give schools more breakfast options in an effort to simplify the program and reduce food waste.

“More common-sense flexibility is needed,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said.

Some consumer-advocacy groups said the changes would give students more leeway in choosing pizza and burgers over balanced meals.

“This would create a huge loophole,” said Colin Schwartz, deputy director of legislative affairs at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a group that is suing the USDA over its prior moves to roll back health requirements for school food.

The Trump administration first proposed scaling back rules governing the contents of school meals in 2017. Regulators said at the time that schools that receive federal funding for meals would no longer have to meet some guidelines regarding the serving of whole grains, sodium and milk that were set during the Obama administration.

When she was first lady, Michelle Obama championed healthier school lunches as a way to combat childhood obesity. Changes during the Obama administration sought to reduce saturated fat and increase the amount of vegetables served to students, among other changes.

If the USDA’s latest proposal is formally adopted, it would lower some requirements on the volume and variety of fruits and vegetables offered to students.

The USDA said 31% of vegetables served during the 2014-2015 school year were wasted. It said it wants schools to be able to serve more starchy vegetables such as potatoes because fewer of them are wasted. The proposed rules also said pasta made of flour from vegetables such as potatoes or squash could be counted as a vegetable serving.

The USDA said consumers and other parties would have 60 days to comment on the details of the proposed changes. School lunch programs in the U.S. serve nearly 30 million students. Proposed changes to how those programs are monitored would save schools millions of dollars, the USDA said. USDA Proposes Relaxing School,USDA Proposes Relaxing School



 

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