New School Lunch Rules Will Make Life Harder for Moms

school lunch

If you're a parent whose kid comes home spinning tales of the wondrous foods served up in the school cafeteria that you refuse to serve at home, brace yourself. Your job is about to get even harder. The new White House administration has taken aim at one of former First Lady Michelle Obama's best known initiatives -- America's school lunch program -- and things are about to look very different in Lunch Lady Land.


In a press release literally titled "Ag Secretary Perdue Moves to Make School Meals Great Again," the USDA laid out a new plan to roll back healthy mandates. 

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First up? Schools will no longer have to meet a July 2022 deadline to reduce sodium levels in the foods served to kids. Also out is the requirement that schools serve breads made with whole grains. Schools will also be allowed to serve flavored milks -- yes, that means chocolate milk -- so long as the milk is 1 percent. 

The reason for all of this change? Well, they can't just come out and say it's because they don't like what Mrs. Obama was up to, so they're claiming that they're making food more kid-friendly so the kids won't go hungry. 

"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," Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says in the press release. "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.”

That's right. After countless nutritionists have spent decades telling moms, "Just because your kid asks for junk doesn't mean you have feed them junk; act like an adult," the US government is telling us all, "Eh, we're just going to let the kids have the crap they want; at least they'll eat it!"

Way to make Mom the bad guy all over again. 

As if it wasn't hard enough having to tell little Johnny and Susie, "No, you can't buy ice cream every day, even though the school sells it as an extra," now schools are being given leave to skimp on the nutrition in even the basic meal. 

Not only is reducing the nutritional value bad news for the 30 million kids who eat school lunch every day -- especially the millions for whom it's the only solid meal of the day -- in terms of what's in their bellies when they walk away from the table, it sends a dangerous message. 

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We send our kids to school to learn, and not just in the traditional classroom setting. Kids learn friendship on the playground, good exercise habits in gym class, and eating habits in the cafeteria. What habits are they picking up in a cafeteria where they're served little but empty carbs?

That's not a rhetorical question -- scientists have studied it, and the answer is "bad ones." Not only are kids drawn to junk food, but Yale researchers found that getting hooked young is tied to a higher risk of chronically unhealthy eating into adulthood

It's something many a '70s or '80s kid, raised on SpaghettiOs and Kool-Aid, knows all too well and why we try to do better for our kids.  

But it's a whole lot harder for moms to fight the good fight, packing lean, hormone-free turkey on whole wheat with a bottle of cold water, when her kid is insisting on eating the Wonder Bread slathered in butter with a side of soda that her best friend had yesterday. It's one thing to say, "So and So's mommy and I make different lunches." It gets more difficult to stand on a moral high ground when it's the school, a supposed authority, side-eyeing nutritional standards.

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The sad fact is, school lunch is already problematic in countless school districts whether you're looking at extreme cases like the Georgia school caught serving funnel cake as a breakfast food last year or the average uninspired menu of beige chicken nuggets with a side of beige mashed potatoes. Change in the school lunch program is needed. 

But kids don't need someone to make school lunch less nutritious so they'll eat it. They need the government to take Mom's side and set out a healthy program that will help them learn to make healthy choices as they grow up. 

After all, we're the adults. 

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