The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act — strongly advocated by former first lady Michelle Obama — was enacted in 2010 to provide funding for child nutrition programs and increase access to healthy food in schools through nutrition standards. However, the Trump administration is now lowering some of these standards — primarily for grains, milk and sodium.
Under the Act, all grain products served during lunch must contain at least 50 percent whole grains, schools must offer exclusively fat-free flavored or unflavored milk or low-fat unflavored milk and sodium levels for meals must be gradually reduced to a target sodium intake based on grade level.
According to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, schools struggled to find nutritious foodstuffs that met the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act standards while still being enjoyable for students, which largely contributed to the changes.
“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,” Perdue said in a press release on May 1, 2017.
Lodi Unified School District Director of Nutrition Services Nancy Rostomily says that the district’s meal program has become increasingly healthier in recent years, and this streak will continue with these new guidelines.
“Our meal program has made great strides in the past few years to offer more fresh items that are scratch made, healthy and produced in our kitchens,” Rostomily said. “We … plan on continuing to serve tasty, nutritious food to our customers that meet the guidelines.”
In its official interim final rule, published on Nov. 28, 2017, and enacted on Dec. 12, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) outlined the three key changes being made to
school lunch menus nationwide.
The new standards allow schools to offer flavored, low-fat milk, include grains that are not whole grain-rich in the weekly menu and increase the amount of sodium in their meals.
Some students do not agree with these Trnew standards and hope that Bear Creek does not change its menu.
“I don’t think they should do that because there’s no point in us having to do P.E. and go
to health [class] if the school is not going to do anything to actually benefit us,” freshman Belle
Regardless of students’ opinions on the new school lunch changes, Rostomily says that there are currently no menu alterations planned at this time. However, Food and Nutrition Services is waiting for clear guidance from the state of California.
“This is a federal ruling, and states have the choice to enforce stricter rules or elect to follow the federal guidelines,” Rostomily said. “Once we get clear directions from [the California Department of Education], we can then evaluate the impact this ruling might have on what we are serving, and if it presents opportunity for Nutrition Services, we will offer [meals following the new ruling] next school year.”