Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has announced his department wants to make a few changes to the school lunch programs that former First Lady Michelle Obama pushed through. The Wall Street Journal reported:

Schools, which receive federal funding for meal programs, won’t have to meet certain guidelines for whole grain, sodium and milk.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said the decision comes after years of feedback from schools and food-service experts, who have faced challenges meeting meal regulations; and from students, some of whom have complained that the meals aren’t appetizing.

The department said the change “begins the process of restoring local control” over those food areas to give schools and states options in ensuring food choices are both healthy and appealing to students.

“If kids aren’t eating the food, and it’s ending up in the trash, they aren’t getting any nutrition—thus undermining the intent of the program,” Mr. Perdue said in a statement.

Perdue applauded Michelle “for addressing those obesity problems in the past” and insisted that the department will not reduce “the nutritional standards whatsoever.”

The Hill listed some of the rules Perdue wants to enact. It does exempt the schools in the 2017-2018 school year:

In an interim final rule, aimed at giving schools more flexibility, Perdue and his department are postponing new sodium reductions for at least three years and allowing schools to serve non-whole grain rich products occasionally as well as 1 percent flavored milk.

Sodium levels in school lunches now must average less than 1,230 milligrams in elementary schools; 1,360 mg in middle schools; and 1,420 mg in high school.

Before Perdue’s rule, schools were expected to reduce sodium even further to average less than 935 milligrams in elementary schools, 1035 milligrams in middle school lunches and 1,080 in high school lunches by the week by July 1, 2017.

Further reductions were set to take effect by July 1, 2022.


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