USDA relaxes rules on healthy school lunches
Portion sizes for meats and grains left some critics hungry for more, so they are being permanently removed, with the goal of providing more flexibility.
Fri, Jan 03, 2014 at 04:37 PM
School lunches can help kids keep healthy, if they're done right. But crafting effective rules and guidelines for proper, nutritious school meals is easier said than done. While first lady Michelle Obama has been talking up the new rules for better school lunches, others have been concerned that some rules provide too little flexibility.
The problem, specifically, has been with portion-size limits on meats and grains. Nutritionists have become concerned that strict limits on meat and grain portions are not workable, and may even leave kids going hungry because they aren't getting enough calories.
Now the USDA is permanently removing portion limits on lean meats and whole grains with a view to giving school nutritionists more autonomy in meeting kids' needs, says the Huffington Post.
"Earlier this school year, USDA made a commitment to school nutrition professionals that we would make the meat and grain flexibility permanent and provide needed stability for long-term planning. We have delivered on that promise," Kevin Concannon, USDA undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer services, said in a statement.
While healthier school lunches are an important goal, it makes sense to remove strict portion sizes on these relatively healthy foods.
After all, kids need calories to fuel their growth and activity-filled lives, and different kids will need different amounts of food. Healthy eating has always been more about overall lifestyle than it has simple calorie-counting. Removing processed foods, reducing salt and sugar content in foods, encouraging kids to eat more fruits and vegetables, and providing plenty of opportunities to exercise at school: these are the real ways to fight obesity — not enforcing one-size-fits-all portion sizes.
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