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Trump Administration Rolls Back Obama-Era Nutrition Standards For School Lunches (arstechnica.com) 788

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Just a week into his position, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced Monday a rollback of nutrition standards for school meals, previously championed by former First Lady Michelle Obama as part of a larger initiative to improve the health of America's children. Under Perdue's new rollback, schools across the country can now delay a requirement to reduce sodium levels, can serve kids fewer whole grains, and can provide one percent flavored milk in addition to flavored skim, unflavored skim, and unflavored one percent. In a news release that declared the move would "make school meals great again," Perdue said: "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. 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." Specifically, under Obama-era nutrition rules, schools were supposed to decrease sodium from meals in three phases. For instance, 2012 school lunches had average sodium levels between roughly 1,400mg to 1,600mg, with elementary school lunches on the lower end. Federal dietary guidelines, which schools must follow, recommend kids get 1,900mg to 2,300mg or less of sodium per day (depending on age). Currently, schools have dropped down to "Target 1," which is a range of about 1,200mg to 1,400mg or less. Schools were supposed to get that down to about 900mg to 1,000mg this year ("Target 2") and then to between 600mg and 700mg by 2022 ("Final Target"). The USDA will now waive the requirement to reach Target 2 until 2020. The USDA will also grant exemptions from the current requirement for schools to serve only whole-grain-rich foods.
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Trump Administration Rolls Back Obama-Era Nutrition Standards For School Lunches

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 02, 2017 @10:32PM (#54345803)

    To be fair, the regulations are trying to push a low fat whole grain diet, which I don't believe is actually healthy. Fat is essential for brain development, our kids definitely shouldn't be eating low fat.

    • by Octorian ( 14086 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2017 @10:35PM (#54345819) Homepage

      That actually reminds me... One thing I remember from when I was growing up, is that my parents had whole milk in the refrigerator for the kids, and skim milk for the adults.

      • by KiloByte ( 825081 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2017 @11:21PM (#54346005)

        skim "milk" is not milk, it's water with white colouring. So is that "1%" stuff. Even that 3.2% stuff what's the best of what's readily commercially available is nowhere close to actual milk.

        Around my place, a couple decades ago, farmers tried selling milk directly to consumers, which got wildly popular but got cracked down on hard. As at the time it was still customary to boil milk before use, it wasn't unsafe, either.

    • by lucm ( 889690 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2017 @10:38PM (#54345835)

      True. These "nutrition standards" are based on the same principles as the USDA food pyramid, which has been for the most part shaped by lobbyists, not nutritional experts.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 02, 2017 @10:43PM (#54345855)

      Yes, but the reason they are doing isn't cause they children need more fat to have healthy diet, it's cause the food industry through SNA lobbyist want give kids cheap processed foods that tend to be high in fat, sugar, additives, and sodium.

      It putting corporate profits over children.

      • Do you have a link to where you got this insight into the minds of the people changing this rule?

        Because if you don't, then you're simply interpreting a motivation according to your political preconceptions, of course?

        • Do you have a link to where you got this insight into the minds of the people changing this rule?

          Do you have a link proving that the people changing these rules have minds?

    • by jenningsthecat ( 1525947 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2017 @10:53PM (#54345899)

      To be fair, the regulations are trying to push a low fat whole grain diet, which I don't believe is actually healthy. Fat is essential for brain development, our kids definitely shouldn't be eating low fat.

      True. But the low sodium requirements should have been kept in place as is. That likely would have happened, if this move had been designed to favour students' health; instead, it was designed to simultaneously cut costs, boost the profits of the crap-meisters who peddle highly processed foods, and take yet another cheap shot at the previous administration. When they say this will "make school meals great again", it's pretty hard not to laugh. Where's Sinclair Lewis when we need him?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Low-sodium diets also have some pretty serious problems with lack of any repeatable evidence of efficacy.

        • by TechyImmigrant ( 175943 ) on Wednesday May 03, 2017 @12:02AM (#54346177) Homepage Journal

          Low-sodium diets also have some pretty serious problems with lack of any repeatable evidence of efficacy.

          Indeed.

          Too little sodium --> You die
          More than the recommended sodium --> you live
          Lots more --> There is a very very weak correlation with a minute increase in blood pressure that is heavily confounded with the many things that go along with high sodium diets and is more than offset with for example walking for 10 minutes a day.

          • by dwywit ( 1109409 )

            It's not quite that simple, even though what you say is true.

            If you get used to a high-salt diet, i.e. from childhood, you'll have difficulty cuttiing down because things just taste bland without the amount of salt you're used to, and it can be difficult to switch to other flavours instead. BTW, you can miss out on a lot of wonderful flavours if your food is overloaded with salt.

            Then your taste buds lose sensitivity with age, and you add more salt, lather, rinse, repeat. And that adds to your kidneys' workl

            • by silentcoder ( 1241496 ) on Wednesday May 03, 2017 @04:11AM (#54346947)

              In my much younger years I developed an interest in cooking, I was also earning minimum wage. So I had to make sacrifices - one of which was to completely stop adding salt to my food (mostly because I couldn't afford to buy salt).

              Thing is, I came to like it - now it's nearly 20 years later, I cook with much better quality ingredients and have turned it into a craft. My wife loves my cooking. My kid loves my cooking. I cook lovely and elaborate foodie kind of meals with interesting flavor mixtures and prepared in interesting ways... and I still almost never add salt to anything I cook.

              The vast majority of fresh foods already contain more than enough salt for your health needs, you don't need to add more to be healthy. And you only think you need it for flavour because you've been overdosing on it for decades. Stop adding it, and very soon not only do you stop missing it - the food tastes BETTER without it.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Anonymous Coward

                Your comment is just about the biggest load of horseshit I've ever seen on this site, and I've seen some horseshit in my days.

                A can of Morton's iodized salt or its generic equivalent, which should be more than enough for an entire year's cooking for an individual, costs less than $1 at many US supermarkets. You say you spent all your money on "fresh fruits and vegetables." Well to put that in perspective, a year's supply of salt costs about what a single apple would at most supermarkets. You also say in o

    • by RatPh!nk ( 216977 ) <ratpH1nk&gMail,com> on Tuesday May 02, 2017 @10:58PM (#54345915)
      This gets into the definition of healthy. Whole grains are universally accepted as healthy. However, while full fat might not have the cardiovascular risk that was one believed, more fat = more calories (also as I am sure you know the source of fat is pretty important) and we are not doing so great with obesity. Also pretty much everyone agrees the western diet contains to much sodium. Bottom line, heart healthy, growth health, weight healthy do not necessarily line up squarely.
      • by zieroh ( 307208 )

        Obesity (along with diabetes II) is caused by carbohydrate intake. Not fat.

      • by TechyImmigrant ( 175943 ) on Wednesday May 03, 2017 @12:06AM (#54346187) Homepage Journal

        >Whole grains are universally accepted as healthy

        No they are not. Anyone who has paid attention to the science for the past decade should have serious doubts about whole grains being healthy.
        Since I do not accept whole grains as healthy, then your statement of universal acceptance is untrue. But it's not even close to being true.

      • more fat = more calories

        The missing factors here are appetite and satiety. If you reduce carbs, and eat more fat, you feel fuller for a longer time. Even though the fat contains more calories per gram, you'll eat less of it, and reduce calories overall.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 03, 2017 @12:51AM (#54346313)

      Because if there's anything Donald Trump knows, it's how to have a healthy diet.

    • by jandersen ( 462034 ) on Wednesday May 03, 2017 @03:30AM (#54346823)

      To be fair, the regulations are trying to push a low fat whole grain diet, which I don't believe is actually healthy. Fat is essential for brain development, our kids definitely shouldn't be eating low fat.

      The US has the highest proportion of obese children of any rich nation, so lack of fat is probably not what holds back brain development in children in America. And it is not fat in gneral that is essential - it is specific, fatty acids, such as omega-3, not the saturated or hydrogenated fats that processed foods are full of. What most children in the West need more than anything is much less food of a much better quality, and outdoor activities. For Heavens' sake, there are children that die of heart attacks and strokes because of this absurd overeating epidemic that plagues the West - especially the US.

      • by havana9 ( 101033 )

        The US has the highest proportion of obese children of any rich nation, so lack of fat is probably not what holds back brain development in children in America

        Eating too many foods with sugars and carbohydrates is a sure way to get fatter even one eats a diet low on fats.
        100 ml of Coca cola are 42 calories and 100 ml of whole cow milk are 61 calories, the latter contains more fats. On the othe hand one feels more full after drinking a glass of latte or better milk and coffee rather than a glass of coke, so one will normally eat less calories in total.

    • To be fair, the regulations are trying to push a low fat whole grain diet, which I don't believe is actually healthy. Fat is essential for brain development, our kids definitely shouldn't be eating low fat.

      They shouldn't be eating the amount of sodium in the processed fast-food grade shit they serve either, which applies to all humans regardless of age.

      Chances are it was the new sodium requirement that was the real bitch to deal with. You can make healthy food taste good, but dealing with bland food is often answered with three days worth of sodium overkill because it's a cheap flavor enhancer.

  • by DatbeDank ( 4580343 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2017 @10:51PM (#54345887)
    The unwritten tidbit here was the lunches became so bland and boring that kids stopped eating them and instead either didn't eat or brought in food. This isn't good because school lunches come from farming subsidizes and under utilized school lunch programs in low income areas mean kids aren't eating. The real solution to this is more physical education (with physical exertion).
  • by OYAHHH ( 322809 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2017 @10:56PM (#54345913) Homepage

    If the students refuse to eat it? Would it not be better for educating students if they were neither experiencing growling stomachs or suffering from food comas?

    Being on the "I'd rather starve" end of the spectrum is not desirable from a development and learning standpoint.

    Food for thought.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      this sounds incredibly like "my kids will only eat mcdonalds".

      this is beyond retarded. if you want kids to eat a certain way, lead them to water. at the VERY LEAST it doesn't set in their minds that it's perfectly normal to eat fucking sugar-fruit, sugar-milk, and frozen food every day. that's the bare minimum net effect that I can think of. at best, a good portion of the kids in the united states will eat the lunch and wont die from a malnourishment coma.

  • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Tuesday May 02, 2017 @11:04PM (#54345943)

    If the parents forgot to pay off a previous balance for school lunches, the kid's lunch gets thrown into the garbage to shame them. Only in America...

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/30/well/family/lunch-shaming-children-parents-school-bills.html [nytimes.com]

    On the first day of seventh grade last fall, Caitlin Dolan lined up for lunch at her school in Canonsburg, Pa. But when the cashier discovered she had an unpaid food bill from last year, the tray of pizza, cucumber slices, an apple and chocolate milk was thrown in the trash.

    • by skam240 ( 789197 )

      It's a shame the kids have to suffer for their parents not paying their bills but there are programs in most of America for kids to get free school lunches if their parents are low income enough. While the article begins with a case of clerical error for the little girl who got her lunch thrown away the fact is that can not be the reason for most of the kids being refused food (or even as the article states, given cheese sandwiches or the like). To me it seems like the real bad guys here are the parents who

  • About time. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ancientt ( 569920 ) <ancientt@yahoo.com> on Tuesday May 02, 2017 @11:05PM (#54345949) Homepage Journal

    I've eaten with my children and the school meals are terrible. Every kid thinks their school lunch sucks, I'm no exception, but by comparison I was given haute cuisine. If it was actually healthy I could nearly forgive it, but the plans are built on junk science.

    Being happy with the results of anything coming from our current president makes my stomach churn. Nonetheless, this is a good thing.

  • by DontBeAMoran ( 4843879 ) on Wednesday May 03, 2017 @12:20AM (#54346229)

    Most health food gets corrupted anyway. Like the granola bar. That's been completely corrupted.

    Because you know initially some guy was like, hey kids are eating candy bars, right? All we got to do is shape granola like a candy bar, kids will eat the granola.

    And then like a week later, uh Bill, kids are not eating these granola bars.

    Well, all you got to do is put chocolate chips in the granola bar. Kids will eat the granola.

    Uh, Bill, kids are picking the chocolate chips out of the granola bar.

    All you got to do is cover it in chocolate. Get rid of the freakin' granola. I gotta tell you how to do everything?

    And now, obligatory link to Jim's website:
    http://www.jimgaffigan.com/pro... [jimgaffigan.com]

  • by NotQuiteReal ( 608241 ) on Wednesday May 03, 2017 @12:25AM (#54346243) Journal
    Back when I was a kid, schools were teaching, not feeding.

    And I had PB&J sandwiches, a lot! And I liked it!
  • by wickerprints ( 1094741 ) on Wednesday May 03, 2017 @12:42AM (#54346287)

    School lunches should be balanced in nutrients. They should be available to any student regardless of income level. They should be fresh. And students should want to eat them, to enjoy eating them. I think these are core principles that any reasonable American can agree to.

    The problem is that this is not what school lunches are: they never have been, nor should anyone with a brain have any illusions that the Trump administration's rollback would do anything meaningful to solve the problem.

    Do you really want to know why school lunches suck? Because Americans are hypocrites. They talk about caring about education. They talk about caring about children. A balanced diet is a critical part of those priorities, yet when it comes down to the putting the money where their mouth is, nobody wants to pay to feed them real food. Oh, you will hear how parents say they want the freedom to choose what to feed their kids...but let's be brutally honest: Americans are fucking fat and they didn't get that way by making good dietary choices for themselves, did they? So if they can't stop guzzling sodas and calling frozen pizzas "dinner," what do you think their kids will eat?

    But how dare I question the inviolable rights of a parent to choose whether to give their kids cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes? Because we live in the Land of the Free...free to gorge yourself on Chick-fil-A and Burger King, that is. And with the fast food industry essentially using an addiction model to sell their poison, is it any surprise that kids (and their parents) would choose to eat a high-fat, high-salt, high-sugar diet?

    Americans are hypocrites: they howl at the idea of being told by anyone else what they can and can't do, but when it's time to pay the consequences of their own poor choices--the millions of dollars spent on their cancer, diabetes, and heart disease--suddenly, it's someone else's fault, someone else's responsibility.

    At some point, you have to decide to make a stand and say, "I the taxpayer, am willing to pay more now to ensure that your kid eats right, so that I don't have to pay more later to subsidize the lifelong health consequences of the shitty lifestyle and dietary choices you made for your kids because you're too fucking stupid to be a parent." Freedom doesn't mean freedom from responsibility.

    If you doubled the school food budget and cut out all the factory farm subsidies and waste, and hired real cooks to make lunches, these kids would be eating real food. And the cost savings would be enormous. And if you have even the slightest bit of intelligence you'd know that the food industry drives these policies: their profit relies on addicting each new generation on junk food.

    • School lunches should be balanced in nutrients. They should be available to any student regardless of income level.

      I don't think people agree on this, it's a major source of conflict right now.

      ,They should be fresh. And students should want to eat them, to enjoy eating them.

      Tastes vary. If my school offered fresh mixed fruit and it contained melon, I would have thrown it away (and still would, because melon is the foulest of fruits).

      I think these are core principles that any reasonable American can agree to.

      I'm not trying to make a joke or throw around hyperbole, but can we be so certain that even half of the American population is reasonable? As in they are able to recognize a logical argume

    • "School lunches should be balanced in nutrients. They should be available to any student regardless of income level. ... And students should want to eat them, to enjoy eating them."

      Pick any two.

  • by havana9 ( 101033 ) on Wednesday May 03, 2017 @02:56AM (#54346719)
    This could be actually a good thing, but for their unintended consequences.
    After the publication in 1980 of USDA dietary guidelines [usda.gov] the percentage of obese people in USA started to rise.
    Same thing happened in the UK with the introduction of the Eatwell plate.
    I think that all stems from the idea that eating fats and cholesterol make one fat, so the energy intake should be based on starchy foods like rice, potatoes and refined wheat: these are foods with a really high glycemic index so the starches are rapidly converted in glucose, the pancreas stats to produce insulin and the glucose is transformed in fat. Then normally the level of glucose in food decreases and the brain registers it as starving and if food is readily available one eats again the starchy foods, that are healthy. Unfortunately this is a sure way to eat too much.
    Eating some fatty food, like cheese, eggs, olive oil, nuts or meat requires more times to be digested and the glycemic response is much lower, so one feels more satisfied to eat.
    In this case I think thast giving to kids "boring" foods makes them eat more "tasty" food like snacks and fried potatoes, that are high in calories and surely not "gourmet" foods, making the whole dietary advice moot.
    If in schools they start to serve a real pizza margherita made with buffalo mozzarella, olive oil, fresh tomato sauce and freh basil, maybe the kids will get a more decent taste for good food, istead to eat some baked thing called pizza made with leftovers
  • by KermodeBear ( 738243 ) on Wednesday May 03, 2017 @06:28AM (#54347451) Homepage

    I don't recall "school lunch program" being part of the federal government's responsibilities.

    If this is something that concerns you, then go to your state. The feds have no business here.

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