School Lunch Rule Changes Concern Health Experts: Why Fix Something Not Broken?

By Amanda Moore, Parent Herald May 05, 08:03 am
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Effective 2017-2018 school year, school lunch programs in America will follow the new and more flexible rule changes. PICTURED: A student carries his lunch at a secondary school.
(Photo : Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue recently approved changes to the school lunch rule the previous administration established. From rigid standards, the changes currently reflected more flexible food choices. Health experts, however, expressed concern over the school lunch rule changes. They said nothing was wrong with the previous regulations, so why fix what was not broken?

The American Heart Association released a statement in light of the school lunch rule changes. It criticized the Department of Agriculture's decision as a "rollback on nutrition standards" and not a flexibility of choice.

"The American Heart Association is very disappointed that the USDA has decided to put special interests back on the school menu." the group's press release read. "We strongly urge the agency and Congress not to give politics priority over the health of our children."

The Center for Science in Public Interest also released a statement saying the current administration "undermined" nutrition advances made in the last eight years. "It makes no sense to freeze that progress in its tracks and allow dangerously high levels of salt in school lunch," the group stated in its press release.

Effective next school year (2017-2018), schools can keep sodium levels of school lunches on the level, instead of reducing it. Schools can also serve whole grain foods and flavored milk.

Perdue signed the new ruling Monday, May 1, as per ABC News. He also acknowledged former First Lady Michelle Obama's school lunch initiative, saying she worked hard to address childhood obesity among school kids.

Changing her policies, however, didn't mean "reducing the nutritional standards whatsoever," Perdue said. The new administration justified they were addressing complaints from kids their school lunches had "palatability issues."

Because of Obama's strict standards, like low sodium and no dairy selections, some kids allegedly do not eat their school meals. "If kids aren't eating the food and it's ending up in the trash, they aren't getting any nutrition - thus undermining the intent of the program," Perdue said in a statement via the USDA.

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