The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) changed the rules about the School Lunch and School Breakfast programs. This could affect your child, if he or she eats the breakfast or lunch that is served at their school. Here are some things to know about the new school lunch rules.
The changes to the School Lunch Program, and the School Breakfast Program, were issued in a proclamation given by United States Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, on May 1, 2017. Parents need to know is that these changes will take effect in starting in the 2017-2018 school year.
The proclamation is a rollback of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which was proposed by the USDA. In short, the purpose of that Act was to establish nutrition standards for all foods in all schools. It included the School Lunch and School Breakfast programs, and also the types of foods offered in vending machines that were located in schools.
The proclamation is also a rollback of former First Lady Michele Obama’s “Let’s Move” Campaign of 2010. The campaign involved three major suppliers of school lunches who pledged to reduce the amount of fat, sugar, and salt in their meals over the next five years.
The proclamation allows schools to have additional options in regards to the serving of whole grains in school meals. States will be allowed to give exemptions to schools that are experiencing hardships in obtaining whole grain-rich products for students. States will also be able to give schools exemptions to the previous rules regarding the allowable amount sodium is in school meals.
Another change allows schools to serve flavored, 1 percent fat milk, to students. This change might not affect some schools who have already been giving students the option to select chocolate milk.
Parents need to know that this proclamation offers states the option to give schools the flexibility to ask for exemptions to the current school meals rules. It does not mean that every state will choose to give schools those exemptions.
People who are in favor of these changes note that some children do not like the taste of the school lunches, so that food ends up in the trash. They point out that kids who do not eat the food aren’t getting the nutrition that is in it.
People who are against these changes are concerned about the health implications of the changes. As an example, the American Heart Association (AHA) made a statement in which they note: “Children who eat high levels of sodium are about 35 percent more likely to have elevated blood pressure, which can ultimately lead to heart disease or stroke.”
Image by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Flickr
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