Jan 17, 2020

USDA proposes letting schools sub grains, meats for veggies in student lunches

In this image, a student eats school lunch
Westbrook Middle School lunch in 2015. Photo: Whitney Hayward/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

The USDA proposed new rules on Friday that would allow schools to serve more grains and meats in place of fruits and vegetables.

Why it matters: The agency's Food and Nutrition Service is responsible for feeding nearly 30 million students through its nutritional programs, per the Washington Post, and these proposed changes would enable schools to cut the number of fruits and vegetables that must be provided to students.

The other side: The USDA is attributing the policy proposal to an effort to reduce food waste, and Under Secretary Brandon Lipps said the policy would help address the unintended consequences of the Obama administration's regulations, per the Post.

  • “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,” Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said in a statement on Friday, as the policy was released.

Yes, but: If the USDA's proposal is finalized, it “would create a huge loophole in school nutrition guidelines, paving the way for children to choose pizza, burgers, french fries and other foods high in calories, saturated fat or sodium in place of balanced school meals every day," Colin Schwartz, deputy director of legislative affairs for Center for Science in the Public Interest, told the Post.

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