USDA Proposes Looser Lunch Regulations

Jan. 21, 2020
Looser nutritional standards for school meals are being proposed by the USDA to save money and reduce waste.

Looser nutritional standards for school meals are being proposed by the USDA to save money and reduce waste, but are being criticized by child advocates and others as shortchanging students.

The proposed changes would give schools more leeway in determining what fruits and vegetables are acceptable in the makeup of school breakfasts and lunches. They would allow schools to cut the amount of fruit served at breakfast from a full cup to a half, with the difference in calories made up by meats or carbs like bread or pastry. They would also allow French fries and other potatoes to be counted as vegetables at every meal.

The proposed changes come on top of a 2018 rule change that allowed flavored milk, changed the requirement for whole grains from 100% to 50%, and put off a deadline for sodium reduction.

Proponents say the rule changes will make furnishing meals easier and less expensive for schools and will reduce waste, since most children are more likely to eat, say, French fries than green vegetables. Opponents say it will allow schools to ramp up junk food and starch at the expense of healthier fare.

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