Trump seeks school lunch reg­u­la­tion roll­backs

Antelope Valley Press - - FRONT PAGE -

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion on Friday pro­posed rolling back nu­tri­tion guide­lines for school meals that had been pro­moted by Michelle Obama as part of her cam­paign to com­bat child obesity.

The im­pact, child nu­tri­tion ad­vo­cates said, will be less fruit and veg­eta­bles and more foods like pizza and fries in the school meals pro­gram, which serves 30 mil­lion chil­dren, most from low-in­come fam­i­lies.

Agri­cul­ture Sec­re­tary Sonny Per­due, who an­nounced the rule changes on Obama’s birth­day, said they were needed to give schools more flex­i­bil­ity and re­duce waste while still pro­vid­ing nu­tri­tious and ap­pe­tiz­ing meals.

Un­der the pro­posal, schools would be al­lowed to cut the amount of cer­tain types of veg­eta­bles served at lunch, and legumes of­fered as a meat al­ter­na­tive also could be counted as part of the veg­etable re­quire­ment. Pota­toes could be served as a veg­etable.

The pro­posal also would al­low schools to re­duce the amount of fruit at on-the-go break­fast served out­side the cafe­te­ria.

Gay An­der­son, pres­i­dent of the School Nu­tri­tion As­so­ci­a­tion, said that while the nu­tri­tion stan­dards had been a suc­cess over­all, some re­quire­ments led to re­duced par­tic­i­pa­tion in the pro­gram, higher costs and waste.

“USDA’s school meal flex­i­bil­i­ties are help­ing us man­age these chal­lenges and pre­pare nu­tri­tious meals that ap­peal to di­verse stu­dent tastes,” An­der­son said in a state­ment.

Ad­vo­cates of the school meals pro­gram as­sailed the changes.

“The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s as­sault on chil­dren’s health con­tin­ues to­day un­der the guise of ‘sim­pli­fy­ing’ school meals,” Colin Schwartz, the Cen­ter for Sci­ence in the Pub­lic In­ter­est’s deputy di­rec­tor for leg­isla­tive af­fairs, said in a state­ment.

The pro­posal would give schools greater flex­i­bil­ity in of­fer­ing en­trees for a la carte pur­chases, which Schwartz said would “cre­ate a huge loop­hole in school nu­tri­tion guide­lines, paving the way for chil­dren to choose pizza, burg­ers, French fries, and other foods high in calo­ries, sat­u­rated fat or sodium in place of bal­anced school meals ev­ery day.”

Geral­dine Henchy, di­rec­tor of nu­tri­tion pol­icy at the Food Re­search & Ac­tion Cen­ter, said the bot­tom line should be nu­tri­tion, but the re­vi­sions to the a la carte rule would re­sult in stu­dents get­ting “a lot more fats, a lot more sodium, a lot more calo­ries.”

Specif­i­cally, the pro­posal would re­duce the amount of red and or­ange veg­eta­bles that would have to be of­fered ev­ery day at lunch.

For break­fasts taken to go, fruit serv­ings could be re­duced from a cup to half a cup.

Rep. Bobby Scott, a Vir­ginia Demo­crat and chair­man of the House Com­mit­tee on Ed­u­ca­tion and La­bor, said the pro­posal “threat­ens the progress we’ve made to­ward im­prov­ing nu­tri­tion in schools.”

As first lady, Obama cham­pi­oned health­ier school meals as part of her “Let’s Move” cam­paign.

The 2010 Health, Hunger-Free Kids Act set nu­tri­tion stan­dards for school meals, re­quir­ing schools to of­fer fruits and veg­eta­bles and more whole-grain foods and to limit calo­ries, fat and sodium.

The pro­posed rule is the sec­ond move by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion to scale back the school lunch pro­gram’s nu­tri­tion stan­dards. Un­der a 2018 rule, the ad­min­is­tra­tion re­duced the whole grains that had to be served and al­lowed low-fat choco­late milk.


In this Thurs­day, May 4, 2017, file photo, a third­grader punches in her stu­dent iden­ti­fi­ca­tion to pay for a meal at Gon­za­les Com­mu­nity School in Santa Fe, N.M.

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