Nutrition Rules for School Lunches Are Rolled Back

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Michelle Obama joined students for lunch at Parklawn Elementary School in Alexandria, Va., in 2012. Credit Alex Wong/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Rolling back Michelle Obama’s signature initiative as first lady, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced on Monday that school lunches would no longer have to meet some of Mrs. Obama’s dietary guidelines calling for healthy meals that include skim milk and whole grains.

Mr. Perdue said school districts would be granted flexibility from rules rolled out by President Barack Obama’s administration, which sought to improve nutrition for students who receive federally subsidized meals.

The regulations were part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, and they were advocated by Mrs. Obama as part of her “Let’s Move” campaign. They required school districts to cut calories, fat, salt and sugar and offer more whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables. But since schools began complying with the nutrition rules in 2012, many have complained that they are too stringent and costly.

“This announcement is the result of years of feedback from students, schools and food service experts about the challenges they are facing in meeting the final regulations for school meals,” Mr. Perdue said in a statement. “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 the regulations had cost school districts an additional $1.22 billion since 2014, and schools report that participation in the federal meals program has declined. Mr. Perdue signed a proclamation on Monday after having lunch with students at Catoctin Elementary School in Leesburg, Va.

In the coming academic year, states will be allowed to grant schools an exemption from the rule requiring 100 percent grain products, and through 2020, schools will not be required to substantially reduce the amount of salt in meals they serve. And instead of nonfat flavored milk, schools will be able to offer 1 percent.

Continue reading the main storySource: New York Times – Politics

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