The USDA seems a little conflicted about what it wants you to eat, kids. A year ago, it put out new rules intended to make school lunches healthier. Then in December, it backed away from restrictions on servings of meat and grains. Now the agency says it wants to crack down on greasy ‘n’ sweet snacks sold both in vending machines and in school lunches. From the Associated Press:
Under the new rules the Agriculture Department proposed Friday, foods like fatty chips, snack cakes, nachos and mozzarella sticks would be taken out of lunch lines and vending machines. In their place would be foods like baked chips, trail mix, diet sodas, lower-calorie sports drinks and low-fat hamburgers. …
Under the proposal, the Agriculture Department would set fat, calorie, sugar and sodium limits on almost all foods sold in schools. Current standards already regulate the nutritional content of school breakfasts and lunches that are subsidized by the federal government, but most lunchrooms also have “a la carte” lines that sell other foods. Food sold through vending machines and in other ways outside the lunchroom has never before been federally regulated.
Let’s just hope the USDA doesn’t backtrack on these new standards.
The proposed rules would apply to anything sold directly by the schools, but not fundraising bake sales or after-school event concessions, where a lot of parents would probably be pretty annoyed about having to eat low-fat hamburgers and baked chips.
Another school lunch change in the works: The USDA is launching a pilot program to test out Greek yogurt as a protein-packed alternative to meat. Somehow I think that’s more likely to excite dairy farmers than grade-school kids, though.