September 25, 2018

House Republicans Let Schools Opt Out of Nutrition Standards

On Thursday, May 29, 2014, the House Appropriations Committee voted to pass a USDA funding bill that contains a provision letting the nation’s schools opt out of rules on nutrition standards. The program faces opposition from the PTA, USDA officials, and advocacy groups such as Center for Science in the Public Interest.

School LunchroomCSPI nutrition policy director Margo G. Wooten said in a statement, “Congress should be a celebrating the excellent progress that school systems are making toward implementing the USDA’s nutrition standards. But instead, House Republicsns are playing politics with what’s on school lunch trays and children’s health. By allowing school districts to opt out of school nutrition standards, House Republicans are opening up the floodgates to let all the old junk food back into schools, while crowding out the fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that have been gaining ground in the program.”

CSPI and other groups have signed a statement supporting the new child nutrition standards. Some of those signators include American Academy of Pediatrics, American Diabetes Association, the AMA, Children’s Defense Fund, Environmental Working Group, March of Dimes, National PTA, Physicians Committee for REsponsible Medicine, Society for Pediatric Research, and the Pew Charitable Trusts.

The two year old standards for the school lunch program were set, in part, because too many enlistees in the Armed Forces are being turned away because they weigh too much. Ironically, the National School Lunch Program was started after World War II because too many enlistees were rejected for being underweight and because they were malnourished.

The changes were made based on current scientific evidence showing that plant foods promote good health and help children maintain a healthy weight. The program is also designed to meet the nutritional needs of all children, and provides programs to teach kids about healthy eating.

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