US school lunch menus needed to be changed
Published: Thursday, December 13th, 2012
Last Friday the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) responded to numerous complaints and criticism over its new school lunch rules by allowing more protein and grains in meals served to students in our government-run public schools.
A 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act signed by the president limited kindergarten through fifth grade students to a daily minimum of one ounce of meat (maximum eight to 10 ounces weekly) and one ounce of grains (maximum eight to nine ounces weekly).
Students in grades six through eight received the same minimum one ounce of meat daily (maximum nine to 10 ounces weekly) and one ounce of grain weekly (maximum nine to 10 weekly).
High school students grades nine through 12 were allocated a minimum of two ounces of meat and grain daily (maximum 10-12 weekly).
Minimum and maximum calorie counts were also mandated by the USDA. For instance, kindergarten through fifth grade students were allowed to consume a minimum of 550 calories and a maximum of 650 calories for lunch.
This was all fine and dandy until the school year began and complaints started rolling in from students, school officials and parents.
The relatively low amounts of protein and grains were designed to push students more toward fruits and vegetables, but many complained that they were not getting enough food to eat at school.
Ag secretary Tom Vilsack sent a letter to members of Congress last Friday saying the department will do away with daily and weekly maximums of meats and grains. Several lawmakers, including South Dakota Senators Tim Johnson and John Thune, wrote the department after the new rules went into effect in September saying school children were not getting enough to eat in their school lunches.
Vilsack said schools don’t have to follow these new meal requirements for the rest of the school year. He said a school would be considered in compliance now if it meets just the minimum serving requirements for grains and meat. No maximum amounts are specified.
“To help schools make a successful transition to the new requirements, we have provided additional flexibility in meeting the requirements for these components,” Vilsack said in his letter.
We applaud the ag secretary in making a 180 degree turn in what many would call unreasonable minimum and maximum amounts of daily protein and grain amounts in the daily diets of school children. It just goes to show what happens when the government tries to regulate anything.
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