One of Michelle Obama’s personal projects during her eight years as first lady was the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which became law in 2010.
The former first lady aimed to combat childhood obesity through healthier school lunches and her “Let’s Move!” campaign.
The USDA stated the following five standards for “practical” change in public school lunches:
- Ensuring students are offered both fruits and vegetables every day of the week
- Substantially increasing offerings of whole grain-rich foods;
- Offering only fat-free or low-fat milk varieties;
- Limiting calories based on the age of children being served to ensure proper portion size; and
- Increasing the focus on reducing the amounts of saturated fat, trans fats, and sodium.
Over the years, critics have pointed out that children are simply not eating the meals and that food waste has been at an all- time high. School nutritionists called for a roll back on the strict sodium and whole grain rules a few years ago, but the law remained in place.
Now, with President Donald Trump in the White House, lobbyists for the 54,000 cafeteria workers are working to reverse the massive school food agenda.
According to Washington Examiner, the School Nutrition Association hopes to get rid of some of the more strict laws, in order to get kids to eat food and waste less money.
In a policy announcement released by the group, they outlined what they intend to change and why:
Getty Images/Paul Morigi
“Overly prescriptive regulations have resulted in unintended consequences, including reduced student lunch participation, higher costs and food waste. Federal nutrition standards should be modified to help school menu planners manage these challenges and prepare nutritious meals that appeal to diverse student tastes.”
The School Nutrition Association hopes to ease restrictions on the sodium limits, as well as the specific amount of whole grains children must have in their meals:
“The current mandate that all grains offered be whole grain rich has increased waste and costs, while contributing to the decline in student lunch participation. Students are eating more whole grain breads and rolls, but schools are struggling with limited availability of specialty whole grain items and meeting students’ regional and cultural preferences for certain refined grains, such as white rice, pasta, grits, bagels or tortillas.”
Head of the House Freedom Caucus Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) is working to repeal the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Meadows told the Washington Examiner’s Paul Bedard that he already has hundreds of regulations ready to be cut:
“The federal government involving itself in what is served in school lunches is the epitome of government overreach. Districts that have chosen to opt out have been able to provide more options to students and better-quality services.
At the beginning of the year, I released a report of more than 300 regulations the Trump administration can undo, which included overly burdensome federal lunch program standards. It’s the perfect example of how government interference generally makes a small problem far worse.”
With the extraordinary amount of government programs that President Trump has been working to cut, it’d be no surprise if we see a significant change in school lunches over the next few years.