On Friday (January 17), Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced a proposed new regulation that would make it easier for school cafeterias to offer a la carte entrees to students and allow more varieties of vegetables to be used to meet nutrition requirements.
According to Perdue, the proposed rule will offer schools more flexibility to serve meals that appeal to student’s preferences, cut administrative burdens and reduce food waste.
“Schools and school districts continue to tell us that there is still too much food waste and that more common-sense flexibility is needed to provide students nutritious and appetizing meals,” Perdue said. “We listened and now we’re getting to work.”
Nutrition advocates, on the other hand, claim the proposal undercuts the nutrition requirements in the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which was enacted by the former First Lady.
“School kids now could eat pizza, hamburgers, french fries and cookies for lunch every day in place of the healthier, balanced school lunch now offered,” said Colin Schwartz, deputy director of legislative affairs for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, according to Bloomberg.
As it stands, school lunch menus have to meet weekly nutritional standards. Schwartz says the new regulations also reduce weekly requirements for serving orange and red vegetables, such as carrots, tomatoes, or butternut squash, which he said could be replaced with potato products such as french fries.
In December 2018, The Trump Administration acted to roll back requirements the Obama Administration imposed under the Healthy Kids Act to increase whole-grain foods and reduce the sodium in school meals.