Your Child's School Lunches May Not Be Getting Healthier. Here’s What You Need to Know
The United States Department of Agriculture recently announced that they are delaying changes to the nutritional guidelines for public schools that were set to be implemented during the 2018-2019 school year.
These changes, according to The Hill, would have reduced the amount of sodium kids consume, and increased the amount of whole grains they have access to. The department claims the rule change will give schools more flexibility in meeting the requirements.
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In a statement, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said “It doesn’t do any good [for schools] to serve nutritious meals if they wind up in the trash can.”
According to the New York Times, were the rules to go into effect, schools would be required to make at least one half of the grains that are served whole grains—though exemptions were available for schools “experiencing hardships.” Under the changes, schools will now have more time to submit exemptions.
In addition, the USDA is allowing schools to delay lowering sodium in school breakfast and lunches. According to The Hill schools had been required to lower sodium levels to 935mg per week in elementary school meals, 1,035mg per week for middle school meals, and 1,080mg for meals served in high schools. The new goals will keep sodium restrictions to 1,230mg for elementary schools, 1,360mg for middle schools, and 1,420mg in high schools per week.
In comparison, the USDA dietary guidelines for Americans suggest consuming about 1500, and no more than 2,300mg of sodium per day, and even less for children under the age of 14. According to the Food and Drug Administration, Americans consume an average of 3,400mg of sodium per day, well above the daily suggestion.
Additional changes include making flavored one percent milk available in school cafeterias. Currently, schools are only permitted to serve flavored nonfat milk, though unflavored low fat and nonfat milk are both allowed.