On January 17, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue proposed two rules that would further roll back the Obama administration’s school lunch reforms. The first proposed rule, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) press release, would offer “increased flexibilities for local school districts to serve children food they will want to eat.” Under the rule, schools would be able to offer more vegetable varieties; it would be easier to serve entrées a la carte; and schools would have greater control over meal patterns. In addition, it would shift the administrative review process to a performance-focused one, which the agency claims would make the process “less burdensome and time consuming.”

The second rule that Perdue is proposing deals with the summer lunch program, which serves more than 2.6 million children during the summer months. Under the proposal, schools will be given more flexibility in choosing meal offerings and service times; it would also allow children to take certain nonperishable food items home.

“Schools and school districts continue to tell us that there is still too much food waste and that more common-sense flexibility is needed to provide students nutritious and appetizing meals. We listened and now we’re getting to work,” said Perdue in the press release. “Our proposed changes empower schools to give their very best to our children nationwide and have the potential to benefit nearly 100,000 schools and institutions that feed 30 million children each school day through USDA’s school meal programs.”

In response to the proposed rules, Colin Schwartz, deputy director of legislative affairs at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, released the following statement: “The Trump Administration’s assault on children’s health continues today under the guise of ‘simplifying’ school meals. The proposed rule would allow anything that might be allowable as an entrée on any one school day to be served as an a la carte item every single day. In practice, if finalized, this 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.”

USDA press release

CSPI press release

In This Article

  1. Food Policy
  2. Diet and Health

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