Tag Archives: Federal school lunch program

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McGovern, DeLauro, Pingree Condemn Trump Move to Rollback School Meals Nutrition Standards

New Policy Attacks Access to Healthy Food for Students Across the Country

(I’ve made some sentences bold. – R.T.)

Today Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and Chellie Pingree (D-ME) – senior House Democrats and leaders on nutrition policy – condemned the move by the Trump Administration to rollback nutrition standards for school meals across the country.

As one of his first acts as Agriculture Secretary, Sonny Perdue announced that the USDA will continue exemptions related to whole grain requirements and will freeze sodium targets.

“Every day school meals help ensure millions of kids get the healthy food they need to learn and succeed. It is outrageous that President Trump and his administration are now pushing a policy that weakens the essential nutrition standards which have strengthened access to healthy food for so many students,” Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA) said.

He continued: “The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 helped us make historic progress in tackling child hunger and obesity. School meals are just as essential as textbooks when it comes to helping our kids succeed and, for millions of kids, school is the only place they will get a nutritious meal. We should build on the progress we’ve made, not turn our backs on kids who rely on these meals. This isn’t about flexibility, it’s about making kids less healthy. Just because President Trump thinks fast food is a balanced meal doesn’t mean we should lower our standards for our kids.”

“Just days into his new job as Secretary of USDA, Secretary Perdue has decided to put special interests ahead of the health of America’s children. School meal nutrition standards were enacted, on a bipartisan basis, to bring school meals up to date with the latest nutrition science — ensuring that our children have healthy options on their plates,” Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) said.

“However, the USDA and President Trump have now decided to roll back much of the progress we have made in the fight against rates of childhood obesity and malnutrition. This interim final rule by the USDA is a slippery slope that will completely undermine school breakfast and lunch programs and the USDA should immediately reverse course,” she said.

It’s disappointing that one of Secretary Perdue’s first actions as the head of USDA is to rollback school nutrition standards with this rule. For many low-income students, the meals they eat in school are all they will eat that day. Minimizing access to healthy food will have consequences for our nation as it grapples with a childhood obesity crisis,” Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME) said. “I recognize schools are faced with strict and limited budgets, so we should concentrate on providing support and technical assistance to schools rather than rolling back standards. I hope Secretary Perdue will refocus his priorities on policies that will improve access to nutritious food and withdraw this rule.”

Today’s announcement will allow schools during the 2017-2018 school year to be exempted from the 100 percent whole-grain requirement.

For school years 2017-2018 through 2020, schools will not be required to meet Sodium Target 2 standards and will be able to stay at Sodium Target 1.

Additionally, the USDA will begin a regulatory process to allow schools to serve 1 percent flavored milk.

Too many American schools are still flunking lunch!

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This summer the City of Worcester ran a kick-ass summer lunch/snack program for low-income/hungry kids at our parks – the USDA’s national Summer Food Service Program! This blue bus (pictured above) could be seen rolling down our city streets, even making stops at our branch libraries! … School’s begun! Hola, Ms. Lunch Lady! Unlike lots of school districts, the Worcester Public Schools work to incorporate fresh veggies and fruits into students’ meals – at every grade level! AND EVERY STUDENT CAN GET A FREE LUNCH! Go, WPS, go!!! – Rosalie T.

By Heather Moore

I don’t care what kids say — the school lunch lady is not trying to kill them. The federal government is. Well, I have my suspicions, at least. Many of the meals served as part of the National School Lunch Program are high in fat and cholesterol and contain considerably more sodium than fiber. They’re a heart attack in the making. I wonder if that’s why the American Heart Association has warned us that atherosclerosis – hardening of the arteries — begins in childhood and progresses into adulthood, at which point it can lead to coronary heart disease.

Most American schools serve the same artery-clogging meals that were served when I was a student, and frozen meals still had to be baked in the oven. How can we expect students to take a health teacher’s “healthy eating tips” seriously when their school cafeteria is serving unhealthy foods?

Salisbury steak, pepperoni pizza and chicken nuggets need to go the way of film projectors and hand-crank pencil sharpeners. And fast-food corporations should also be expelled from schools — or at least suspended until they serve more plant-based meals.

As Dr. Neal Barnard, the president of the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, says, “Fresh produce, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds are nutritional powerhouses that study after study has shown to be quite literally lifesaving .… [D]iets high in animal protein are associated with a fourfold increase in the chance of dying from cancer or diabetes — making heavy meat and dairy consumption just as dangerous as smoking.”

Responsible parents teach their children not to smoke because cigarettes cause cancer and other health problems. For the same reason, they should make sure their kids don’t get hooked on hamburgers and other unhealthy foods. Let’s put more emphasis on teaching children to eat vegan meals — at school and at home. Kids will gladly eat plant-based meals, such as pasta, veggie burgers and black bean chili, if they’re delicious as well as nutritious.

Knowing this, the Coalition for Healthy School Food created the Cool School Food program to develop, test and implement plant-based meals in school cafeterias. The program — which helped two public schools in New York implement the first entirely plant-based school menus in the U.S. — aims to make it fun and exciting for young people to try new foods and learn about their health benefits.

Food Is Elementary, another school program that was recently featured in VegNews magazine, is also working to introduce children to plant-based foods, which the kids prepare and eat as part of a curriculum established by the founder of the Food Studies Institute, a New York-based nonprofit that helps school cafeterias incorporate low-fat, high-fiber foods into their menus.

We need more programs like these. Students are fed up with the unappetizing, inhumane and potentially disease-promoting fare that passes as lunch in many school cafeterias. Last year, students at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Chicago boycotted school lunch in an attempt to persuade officials to serve healthier meals, including more fresh fruit and vegetables.

That’s hardly an unreasonable request. The school cafeteria is supposed to be a source of nourishment, not disease. This year’s National School Lunch Week, which will be observed in October, aims to remind “parents, students and school officials that a healthy lunch helps students power through the day!”

But how can we expect kids to make it through the day — and learn compassion and empathy — if they’re eating unhealthy animal-based foods? We need to teach children that “v” is for vegan and serve them healthy, tasty, cruelty-free plant-based foods.