It looks like USDA is backtracking on its stance to limit protein in school lunch programs.
Last week, USDA Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon announced that USDA is making permanent the current flexibility that allows schools to serve larger portions of lean protein and whole grains at mealtime.
Well, it’s about time. In the fall of 2012, USDA rolled out new "healthier" requirements for school lunch programs that were designed to limit calories and portion sizes as a way to fight childhood obesity. But the changes had kids and parents complaining about the food choices, and school districts upset with the heightened costs of compliance. After USDA received an overwhelming number of calls, letters and emails from concerned moms stating how their children are too hungry to concentrate in class and get through their sports practices because of the reduced food intake offered at lunchtime, USDA relented in December 2012 by temporarily adding flexibility to the requirements. It appears USDA is listening to the concern from schools, lawmakers and parents and is now acting to make that temporary flexibility permanent.
According to a USDA press release, “USDA has worked closely with schools and parents during the transition to healthier breakfasts, lunches and snacks. Based on public feedback, USDA has made a number of updates to school meal standards, including additional flexibility in meeting the daily and weekly ranges for grain and meat, which has been available to schools on a temporary basis since 2012."
I have closely followed this topic because I felt that the new MyPlate guidelines that were being foisted upon children in schools did a huge disservice to our nation’s youth -- starving them of important nutrients like animal fats and proteins in a perverse effort to combat childhood obesity. While the intentions might have been good, the consequences of the action weren’t so pretty.
Read my previous blog posts on the topic:
Do you think USDA’s initial changes to the school lunch program hurt our nation’s youth? What do you think about USDA adding protein back onto the menu? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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