USDA weakens school nutrition standards
- First, it will broaden the milk options in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program by allowing local operators to permanently offer flavored, low-fat milk. For consistency across nutrition programs, it will also allow flavored, low-fat milk in the Special Milk Program for Children and in the Child and Adult Care Food Program for participants ages 6 and older. [My translation: a green light to sugar-sweetened milk].
- Second, this final rule will require that half of the weekly grains in the school lunch and breakfast menu be whole grain-rich, thus ending the need for the exemption process. [Translation: Schools can serve a lot fewer whole-grain foods].
- Third, it will provide schools in the lunch and breakfast programs more time for gradual sodium reduction by retaining Sodium Target 1 through the end of school year (SY) 2023-2024, continuing to Target 2 in SY 2024-2025, and eliminating the Final Target that would have gone into effect in SY 2022-2023. [Translation: Good-bye Target 3; forget about serious sodium reduction].
By codifying these changes, USDA acknowledges the persistent menu planning challenges experienced by some schools, and affirms its commitment to give schools more control over food service decisions and greater ability to offer wholesome and appealing meals that reflect local preferences. [Translation: USDA is committed to letting schools serve junk foods].
It’s worth reading the Federal Register notice:, which reveals:
- 97% of more than 84,000 comments on grain flexibility opposed the changes.
- 96% of more than 83,000 comments on sodium flexibility opposed the changes.
Most schools had implemented the previous rules just fine. In today’s Orwell-speak, greater “flexibility” means that USDA cares a lot more about the health of the companies that sell meals and snacks to schools than it does to kids’ health.
These changes provide further evidence of corporate capture of USDA.
Three reactions of interest