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If it weren’t so tragic, we could all have a big laugh at the USDA’s latest announcement of how it plans to weaken the nutrition standards for school meals. Here’s how it starts:
Delivering on his promise to act on feedback from dietary professionals, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced two proposals today that will put local school and summer food service operators back in the driver’s seat of their programs, because they know their children best. Under the school meals proposed rule, school nutrition professionals have more flexibility to serve appetizing and healthy meals that appeal to their students’ preferences and subsequently reduce food waste…These improvements build on the 2018 reforms that preserve strong nutrition standards while providing schools the additional flexibilities they need to best serve America’s students [the words in red are my emphasis].
This is USDA doublespeak. My translation:
I just can’t get my head around why there is so much political pressure to feed junk food to kids. Doesn’t everyone want kids to be healthy? Apparently not.
Bettina Siegel, author of Kids’ Food and blogger at The Lunch Tray, has her own analytical deconstruction of what this announcement means.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest interprets USDA’s proposals as an “assault on school meals.”
In an email, a reader who wishes to remain anonymous sent me some notes on the large body of research, some of it from the agency itself, countering USDA’s claims that the current nutrition standards are not working.
In short, school meals are not broken and do not need fixing. This is about politics, in this case USDA’s pandering to food company interests at the expense of kids’ health.