The Obama’s restrictions placed on school cafeterias has been rolled back by the Trump administration, which has relaxed the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) nutritional standards for school lunches, making it easier for children to once again get edible lunches at school.
Ever since, cafeteria directors have taken to social media to express their joy at once again being able to provide children with delicious, and still healthy, food.
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue talked about the need to have better tasting food. There’s no point in having nutritious food if kids are not eating it.
The Trump administration official asserted that the current standards were resulting in school lunches that students did not want to eat.
“We know meals cannot be nutritious if they’re not consumed, if they’re thrown out,” Perdue said, according to The Washington Post. “We have to balance sodium and whole grain content with palatability.”
The Agriculture Secretary pledged that the rollback wouldn’t weaken nutrition standards but instead give “school food professionals the flexibility they need.”
In 2012, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act began instituting new standards of school lunch nutrition nationwide, under the leadership of former First Lady Michelle Obama. The most prominent regulations mandated that all cafeterias had to serve fruit and vegetables during every meal, all meals be whole grain, and that all flavored-milk be fat-free.The changes instituted by Perdue will allow schools to obtain waivers to serve foods with that are at least 50 percent and to serve flavored-milk with one percent fat.
“[Perdue] is not changing the standards per se, but he is allowing schools to not follow them,” nutrition policy researcher David Pelletier of Cornell University told PolitiFact. “It’s a bit like saying the posted speed limits on the roads remain the same, but you can go as fast as you want.”
Several school cafeteria teachers in New York state welcomed the changes, asserting that they would afford them more flexibility to provide meals that students would be eager to eat.
“It doesn’t put such a chokehold on the items that we can serve,” director Sandy Cocca of the Sweet Home Central School District told The Buffalo News. “We don’t want to put something on a plate that they’re going to throw out. We want them to consume what’s on the plate.”
Director Kim Roll of the Tonawanda School District agreed, asserting “This letting-up-a-bit is a good thing for schools.”
Cafeteria directors were especially appreciative of Perdue’s decision to delay a scheduled sodium mandate from July to 2020. The regulation would have required cafeterias to cut the maximum amount of sodium allowed in lunches by half. Critics said that the regulation would have been too onerous, with only 935 milligrams of sodium allowed in elementary school lunches.
Director Bridget O’Brien Wood of the Buffalo Public Schools noted that none of her colleagues wanted to fully reverse the changes made by Obama, but instead tinker with them and find a balance between nutrition and taste.
“No one’s abandoning idea,” Obrien Wood said of Obama’s efforts to reduce childhood obesity. “I think we’ve had to look at what’s not working, and change things from there.”
Of course, not everyone can be happy.
Liberals are of course blasting the decision, claiming that the rollback is contributing to childhood obesity.
Politics aside, it’ll be up to kids and parents at the end of the day whether the rollback of Obama’s laws was as delicious as they seem!