In win for corporate lobbyists, USDA proposes to weaken federal school lunch program.
Federal regulations for school lunches—never strong to begin with—are about to get worse.
If Trump’s U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) pushes through its proposed new rules, schools will be allowed to serve up more processed junk food (pizza and fries), and fewer fruits and vegetables.
The rules, masquerading under the pretense of giving schools “greater flexibility” and reducing food waste, are another gift to corporate lobbyists, like the Corn Refiners Association, the Snack Food Association (SNAC International) and yes, the School Nutrition Association.
Under changes, proposed by USDA Deputy Under Secretary Brandon Lipps, schools would be allowed to cut the amount of fruit served at breakfast in half, and substitute sweet pastries or granola bars.
The new rules would also let schools replace leafy green vegetables with french fries—nevermind that in addition to being fried in unhealthy oils, because schools aren’t required to source organic potatoes, those fries will come from potatoes drenched in a toxic soup of pesticides.
Colin Schwartz, deputy director of legislative affairs for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, told the Washington Post that the proposed rules, if finalized, “would create a huge loophole in school nutrition guidelines, paving the way for children to choose pizza, burgers, french fries and other foods high in calories, saturated fat or sodium in place of balanced school meals every day.”
In other words, the USDA proposes to undermine kids’ health by feeding them junk foods linked to childhood obesity and chronic disease.
Some 30 million children participate in the National School Lunch Program, and 22 million are from low-income families. Lowering the nutritional standards for school meals could have disastrous implications for those kids.
The food low-income children eat at school is often their only chance for a healthy meal. That’s why we think the USDA should be raising the standards for school meals, not lowering them. School breakfasts and lunches should include more healthy organic foods that are pesticide-free—not more processed junk food.