On January 17, 2020, the Trump administration announced that it would be making more changes to school nutrition guidelines. The belief in doing so, is that this would allow schools more flexibility in preparing more nutritious and appetizing meals and reduce the amount of food that goes to waste. 

According to a press release found on the USDA website, this proposed rule would:

  • Allow local schools to offer more vegetable varieties, while keeping plenty of veggies in each meal;  
  • Make it easier for schools to offer school lunch entrees for a la carte purchase, thereby reducing food waste;  
  • Provide schools options to customize meal patterns to best serve children in different grades or smaller schools who eat together;   
  • Support a more customized school breakfast environment by letting schools adjust fruit servings and making it simpler to offer meats/meat alternates, ultimately encouraging breakfast options outside the cafeteria so students can start their day with a healthy breakfast; and  
  • Shift to a performance-focused administrative review process that is less burdensome and time consuming, which would increase collaboration with operators to improve program integrity.  

However, instead of hearing it like this, you may have heard that “The Trump administration proposed rollback for Michelle Obama school lunch guidelines,” or something along those lines. Maybe you read that more pizza, hamburgers, and fries, would appear on school menus with these proposed changes. 

Opponents of this rule, such as the American Heart Association (AHA), are worried about the following:

  • Reducing the amount of fruit required at breakfast for meals served outside the cafeteria. Schools could now provide as little as a half cup of fruit, a 50% reduction from current requirements.
  • Removing the requirement that schools serve grains at breakfast.  Schools could now meet the standards by serving meat and no grain products.
  • Changing the vegetable subgroup requirements so that schools are no longer required to serve as many red and orange vegetables and legumes. Instead, schools could serve more potatoes and other starchy, often fried, vegetables.
  • Allowing entrees currently served as part of the weekly reimbursable meal program to be served on their own nearly every day of the week, eliminating the requirement that these items meet the strong a-la-carte standards for individual food items. 

Several parents on the other hand are rejoicing everywhere, excited that their children will “enjoy” school lunch again. Parents have expressed their opinions all over social media, both in favor and opposed to the new changes. Many of them are aware of the amount of food that goes to waste, and worry about the amount of children who end up not eating at all because they don’t enjoy what’s being served to them. Other parents believe this won’t make a difference at all when it comes to keeping our children educated regarding nutrition. They believe that a healthy diet begins at home. Of course, many children only get their meals from their school cafeterias, so in order for them to receive and learn about nutritious meals, school cafeterias are the true starting point. (Just like any other classroom in our schools). Other parents have expressed the same concerns that the AHA has – that these flexibilities will contribute to the high obesity rates among children in the US. 

With participation rates low and the food waste high, PrimeroEdge wants to know, what do YOU think about this proposed rule?

Let us know below and you could be featured in our next post!