More Food for Hungry Students: USDA Tweaks School Meals

Publication: Time

Author: Alexandra Sifferlin

01/31/2013 - ''Schools across the country continue to struggle with implementing the first new nutritional guidelines in 15 years governing meals served to nearly 32 million U.S. students every day. The new requirements of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National School Lunch Program, put in place in January 2012, include eliminating full-fat milk, boosting whole-grain foods and reducing total calories on menus, and some schools are finding it a challenge to make their menus work under these regulations. Amid pressure from government officials, however, the USDA recently loosened up on some of its requirements on meat and grains.''

'''It wasn’t a big surprise that [the USDA] made those adjustments,' says Erik Olson, director of food programs at the Pew Health Group. 'They decided schools needed some time to do this. Standards for school meals have not been updated in 17 years. Right now, it looks like [these changes] are taking care of the issues some schools were facing that were causing initial growing pains.'

The USDA was unwilling to make more sweeping concessions possibly because there are some school districts that are implementing the new regulations with little difficulty and are not reporting major complaints from their students. A survey from the California Endowment reported that 82% of California students, for example, say they support the changes. The Carrollton City Schools district in Georgia was named one of several school district “success stories” by the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project, a joint effort between the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to provide a nonpartisan analysis of school nutrition.''

Read the full article, More Food for Hungry Students: USDA Tweaks School Meals, on Time's website.

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