Jan 17, 2020

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

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.

Go deeper: Trump admin. cuts school healthy lunch guidelines

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Some schools give mental health days as young Americans' suicide rate rises

Photo: Adam Augustus Crowley/Getty Images

States and school districts around the country are passing legislation to allow students to take mental health days as young people struggle with depression and anxiety, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: The changes come as the suicide rate among young people continues to rise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported suicide was the second leading cause of death among people ages 10-24 in 2017.

College campuses on edge due to coronavirus outbreak

Photo: Muntz/Getty Images

Students and staff on college campuses across the country are on edge as rumors swirl surrounding the coronavirus outbreak, The New York Times reports.

Why it matters: University campuses can be breeding grounds for infectious and viral diseases. Illnesses can also spread quickly considering the close proximity in which students reside.

Go deeperArrowFeb 1, 2020 - Health

Super Bowl spends $500k to ditch single-use plastic

Trash in the aftermath of Philadelphia celebrating the Eagles' Super Bowl LII win. Photo: Corey Perrine/Getty Images

Ahead of Super Bowl Sunday, the Miami Dolphins and concession services for the Hard Rock Stadium invested $500,000 in replacing single-use plastic cups with aluminum alternatives, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: By one estimate, nearly 80% of plastic waste has accumulated in landfills or in the natural environment, and it’s uncertain how long it takes to degrade. Plastics are slowly permeating our bodies, oceans and even the air.

Go deeperArrowFeb 1, 2020 - Sports