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Salt, Whole Grain Standards in School Lunches Loosened

Image: Salt, Whole Grain Standards in School Lunches Loosened

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue eats lunch with students at the Catoctin Elementary School in Leesburg, Va., Monday, May 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

By    |   Tuesday, 02 May 2017 08:40 AM

Salt and whole grain standards in school lunches are being loosened by new Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue as he signed a proclamation Monday which some saw as a rollback of rules championed by former first lady Michelle Obama.

Perdue's proclamation gives schools greater flexibility in picking and choosing the amounts of sodium and whole grains, as well as what types of milk, they provide to students, CBS News reported.

The proclamation, which does not take effect until the next school year this fall, delays a requirement to reduce sodium levels in school meals, CBS News reported. Schools will also be allowed to waive a regulation that required grain products given to students to be at least 50 percent whole grain.

"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," Perdue said in a statement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. "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."

The USDA created regulations under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Act of 2010 that required schools to limit fat and salt in school meals and offer more whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables, Education Week reported.

Congressional Republicans and school nutrition groups have complained that the regulations were too restrictive and too costly to implement, noted Education Week.

"I commend Secretary Perdue for taking this important step," Patricia Montague, chief executive officer of the School Nutrition Association, said in the Department of Agriculture statement.

"We have been wanting flexibility so that schools can serve meals that are both nutritious and palatable. We don't want kids wasting their meals by throwing them away. Some of our schools are actually using that food waste as compost. That shouldn't be happening," Montague continued.

Perdue praised Michelle Obama and said in a speech Monday that his proclamation was not targeting nutritional guidelines she established under her Let's Move Campaign, CBS News reported.

"This is not reducing nutritional standards whatsoever," Perdue said, according to CBS News. "It's pausing here to evaluate whether or not the progressive standards are moving even further are appropriate or not. The meal they get, the caloric intake and the nutritional capacity as that is going to be just as great. And we hope it will be even more palatable."

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Salt and whole grain standards in school lunches are being loosened by new Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue as he signed a proclamation Monday which some saw as a rollback of rules championed by former first lady Michelle Obama.
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Tuesday, 02 May 2017 08:40 AM
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