Study: Proposed changes to school meal standards a bad idea
The Trump administration’s proposed changes to school meals and snacks standards could increase food insecurity and have a detrimental impact on kids’ health and academic performance, according to a study released today by Healthy Eating Research, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The comment period on the rule has been extended until April 22 due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The rule would relax some of the requirements that USDA imposed on the nation’s schools following the passage of the 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act. The Trump administration has said the rule would make it easier for schools to serve students.
The authors noted, “Under USDA’s proposal, schools participating in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program would be allowed to serve less fruit, fewer whole grains, fewer varieties of vegetables, and more starchy vegetables. In addition, the proposed changes would allow entrees currently served as part of the lunch or breakfast to be served more often without being required to meet nutrition standards.”
“Currently, nutrition standards for meals apply to the meal as a whole, which allows schools to occasionally serve foods that would not meet nutrition standards on their own — such as a cheeseburger or pizza — alongside a salad, fruit, and milk to create a balanced meal. Under USDA’s proposed changes, however, schools could make items like cheeseburgers or pizza available for purchase on their own, via the a la carte line, almost any day of the week.”
“Nutritious school meals can help put children on a path to lifelong health and well-being, but this assessment reveals that the proposed changes to school nutrition standards would put children’s health and education at risk,” said Megan Lott, deputy director of Healthy Eating Research and lead author of the study.
“Ensuring that schools offer nutritious foods and beverages that reflect the best
available nutrition science, such as the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, is especially important for the millions of children who rely on those meals every day. The proposed changes fall short of that benchmark.