Some Schools Opt Out of the Healthy Lunch Program

Posted 07/02/2014 | By HealthCorps

The Obama Administration announced new school lunch rules in 2012, adding more fruits and vegetables to school breakfasts and lunches, and reducing salt and fat levels, in an attempt to combat burgeoning childhood obesity. Recently the House Appropriations Committee passed an agriculture bill that includes nearly $21 billion for child nutrition, but the bill also allows certain schools to opt out of the new guidelines passed in 2012.

These newer provisions offer some schools an additional twelve months to comply with the 2012 guidelines. With a vote of 31 to 18, some members of the committee felt that schools were finding the changes “too expensive and too quick.” Others feel that this new 2014 bill, and the specific provisions now permitting some schools to partake of a delay, is akin to a poison pill, undermining the congressional effort to provide all kids with more nutritious foods. An attempt was made to remove the “delay waiver” from the bill, but it was defeated 29 to 22.

The School Nutrition Association, a group of school nutritionists feel that the new legislation, with the waiver, was merited. The cost of the 2012 rules had led to a decrease in the number of schools participating in the federal meals programs, and faculty at the schools had also noticed many of the school kids refusing the healthier meals, and even tossing their meals in the garbage. A slower introduction of healthier options, and modified salt and fat guidelines they feel, might encourage these schools to rejoin.

Some experts have suggested that change, especially when it’s centered around food, is hard, but “we don’t throw out math and science because they are hard subjects, so why would you abandon tough but better food rules?” Parents can certainly help to support the healthier changes in school, by embracing healthier menu changes at home.

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