National education and labor news

Trump administration lowers school nutrition standards

The Trump administration announced on Dec. 6 that it will lower health protections for school lunches. The U.S. Department of Agriculture will reduce nutrition standards for grains, flavored milks and sodium in school cafeterias that were established by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 and advocated by former first lady Michelle Obama.

The changes, all of which will go into effect by July, apply to school meals that qualify for at least some federal reimbursement.

The Obama-era rules required that schools must serve bread products that contain at least 50 percent whole grains. Under the new rules, only half of the grain products on the cafeteria’s weekly menu must meet that target.

The Trump administration is allowing schools to serve low-fat flavored milks, rather than just the nonfat version. This change was already in place for this school year, but it will now become permanent.

Schools will still have to reduce sodium in lunches, but they will not be required to do so as aggressively.

Nutrition advocates criticized the changes.

“The behavioral research shows you have to offer nutritious food to kids over and over and be consistent,” said Karen Perry Stillerman, a senior analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Santa Fe New Mexican, Dec. 8

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