Newly appointed Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue rolled back some Obama-era school lunch rules, arguing that if students refuse to eat the nutritious food and it winds up in the trash can, the entire intent of the program is undermined. He said:
This announcement is the result of years of feedback from students, schools, and food service experts about the challenges they are facing… A perfect example is in the south, where the schools want to serve grits. But the whole grain variety has little black flakes in it, and the kids won’t eat it. The school is compliant with the whole grain requirements, but no one is eating the grits. That doesn’t make any sense.
It’s hard to argue with such an assertion. With this in mind, Childhood Obesity News ended yesterday’s post by remarking that every story has two sides. It might be equally relevant to observe that every politician has two faces.
The change was also referred to by Sec. Perdue himself as restoring to local control the guidelines concerning salt, milk and whole grains. This is hard to reconcile with the headline in another publication that reads, “Sonny Perdue changes school lunch rules, but says Obama standards for milk, grains remain.”
Well, which is it? Actually, it seems that whatever change may be in store for the standards set at the encouragement of former First Lady Michelle Obama, the beginning is slow. In the areas of whole grains and sodium, the time period for using more of one and less of the other has been extended.
Nutrition policy researcher David Pelletier describes what seems not so much a direct attack, as a policy of purposeful neglect — “He is not changing the standards per se, but he is allowing schools to not follow them.”
In a letter to editor of USA Today, Rachna Govani of Foodstand points out that premature cardiovascular death is currently attributed to, among other things, a deficit of whole grains and an excess of salt in the diet. She also brings up two other cogent points:
Physical activity, though important, is outweighed by diet when it comes to fighting obesity. Yet physical activity has been used by big food, big soda and now Perdue as a red herring. His message about exercise promotion mirrors the debunked propaganda big soda promoted.
Sometimes school lunch is the closest thing to a balanced meal — or any meal for that matter — that some children eat each day. Secretary Perdue went to the lunchroom of a Virginia elementary school to announce the new rules, and told the kids:
I wouldn’t be as big as I am today without chocolate milk.
What the heck? As we see from this photo taken at meeting with Senator Claire McCaskill, Sec. Perdue is a fairly large man. It sounds as if he is endorsing obesity, with the recommendation to achieve it through chocolate milk!
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “Ag Secretary Perdue Moves to Make School Meals Great Again,” USDA.gov, 05/01/17
Source: “Sonny Perdue changes school lunch rules, but says Obama standards for milk, grains remain,” Politifact.com, 05/04/17
Source: “School lunches could lose nutritional value,” USAToday.com, 05/15/17
Photo credit: Senator McCaskill via Visualhunt/CC BY-ND