U.S. permanently relaxes rules aimed at healthier school meals

WASHINGTON Thu Jan 2, 2014 8:12pm EST

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. regulators said on Thursday they were permanently relaxing school meal rules that were designed to combat childhood obesity by reining in calories and portion sizes but aroused complaints the policies caused students to go hungry.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture had initially loosened the rules in late 2012, suspending daily and weekly maximum amounts for grains and meat or meal alternatives. That allowed school districts to service larger portions without penalty.

"Earlier this school year, USDA made a commitment to school nutrition professionals that we would make the meat and grain flexibility permanent and provide needed stability for long-term planning. We have delivered on that promise," Kevin Concannon, USDA undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer services, said in a statement.

The announcement was welcomed by North Dakota Republican Senator John Hoeven, who had introduced a bill with Arkansas Democratic Senator Mark Pryor to make the changes permanent.

"Today, the USDA made the permanent changes we have been seeking to the School Lunch Program," Hoeven said in a statement. "A one-size-fits-all approach to school lunch left students hungry and school districts frustrated with the additional expense, paperwork and nutritional research necessary to meet federal requirements. These are exactly the changes included in our Sensible School Lunch Act."

The rules had initially been adopted in 2012 as part of a law designed to improve school breakfasts and lunches. The modifications were aimed at limiting fat and salt, reducing portion sizes and increasing fruit and vegetable servings. Some 31 million children in the United States receive free or low-cost school lunches and more than 10 million get free or discounted breakfasts.

Schools are an important focus because they provide meals to many low-income students, considered to be often the most at risk for being overweight or obese.

(Reporting by Peter Cooney and Ros Krasny; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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Comments (5)
EastBerlin wrote:
So, in other words, let’s let the fat kids get fatter. Lets let
a balanced and healthy way of eating be thrown out by politicians.
Another dis-service to the well-being of the future generation.

Jan 02, 2014 9:17pm EST  --  Report as abuse
AZWarrior wrote:
No matter how well intentioned, unless you are prepared to force feed the kids, it is a case of either not enough to eat, or the waste of uneaten food. If you pay for you lunch, you should have what you want. If you get free luch, you eat what the taxpayer tell you to or go hungry. Makes no difference to me.

Jan 02, 2014 9:46pm EST  --  Report as abuse
WhyMeLord wrote:
OMG, now kids can pig-out (pun intended) on fired lard and grits.
How barbaric have we become we don’t try to protect our children?
What does the USDA care that these kids will live a life of pain?
They’ve caved in to pressure of back-woods school boards that don’t want to spend any more money on their kids, and won’t raise taxes.
What a bunch of self-serving bureaucrats and red-neck barbarians.
Personally, I can’t think of anything I’m proud of here anymore.

Jan 02, 2014 10:45pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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