The Agriculture Department says it will issue new rules on school lunches that will increase the daily and weekly allowance of meat and grains. This follows on the heels of several well publicized lunchtime protests by students who rebelled against the mostly vegetarian fare that the Agriculture Department had previously recommended.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told members of Congress in a letter Friday that the department will do away with daily and weekly maximums of meats and grains. Several lawmakers wrote the department after the new rules went into effect in September saying kids aren’t getting enough to eat.
School administrators also complained, saying set maximums on grains and meats are too limiting as they try to plan daily meals.
“This flexibility is being provided to allow more time for the development of products that fit within the new standards while granting schools additional weekly menu planning options to help ensure that children receive a wholesome, nutritious meal every day of the week,” Vilsack said in a letter to Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.
The new guidelines were intended to address increasing childhood obesity levels. They set limits on calories and salt and phase in whole grains. Schools must offer at least one vegetable or fruit per meal. The department also dictated how much of certain food groups could be served.
While nutritionists and some parents have praised the new school lunch standards, others, including many conservative lawmakers, refer to them as government overreach. Yet many of those same lawmakers also have complained about hearing from constituents who say their kids are hungry at school.
Though broader calorie limits are still in place, the rules tweak will allow school lunch planners to use as many grains and as much meat as they want. In comments to USDA, many had said grains shouldn’t be limited because they are a part of so many meals, and that it was difficult to always find the right size of meat.
Moderation is the key to life. Eat well, but don’t overdue it. There’s nothing wrong with snacks, or sweets, and high calorie deserts as long as they don’t make up the bulk of a kid’s diet. A child will have many more meals with their parents than at school during the course of the year. The primary responsibility for teaching children healthy eating habits lie with the parents and not government.
Why do the feds find it necessary to go completely overboard by force feeding kids healthy food? Teaching kids about nutrition is great. Showing them alternatives to sweets and snacks is fine. But sending a child back to class after lunch hungry either because the portions are too small or the student refused to eat something on the menu is not the answer to inculcating good dietary habits in children.