Veggie Cups for School Lunch

Solving the Problem of Too Many Fruits and Veggies at School

Late last week (we call it a Friday news dump) the USDA proposed new rules for school nutrition. The administration calls it regulatory reform. Flexibility to reduce food waste. But childhood nutrition advocates call it a move for more pizza and fewer veggies at school.

USDA says it “did not intentionally announce this proposed rule on Michelle Obama’s birthday.” Uh huh. This proposal rolls back one of her celebrated accomplishments. Clearly, that could have been a mere coincidence. But not everyone is buying that.

More Options À La Carte

USDA says the agency has been listening to schools and stakeholders. Among those stakeholders are the National Potato Council which has been concerned that our children might not get enough potatoes. The school pizza lobby is a winner with these rules, too. The American Heart Association explains:

Children could, for example, purchase three slices of pizza in the a-la-carte line instead of purchasing a nutritionally balanced, reimbursable lunch that contains a slice of pizza, salad, and fruit.

Much of the food industry tried to play nice when Michelle Obama pushed for higher nutrition standards. The pizza lobby took a different, more combative tact. Pizza makers banded together and resolved fight for pizza. That stubborn determination is paying off.

The Wrong Fight?

Will this be a winning issue for the administration in the long run? That’s not entirely clear. For sure, some people want the right to get pizza, burgers, and fries at school. And the businesses that sell it will support these changes.

However, parents are a little touchy about what their kids get at school. Karen Tumulty writes in the Washington Post that this is the wrong fight to pick:

This move by the Trump administration, if it is allowed to stand, will be one that parents remember when they go to the polls in November.

More to the point, it ignores some key facts. Professor Mary Story explains:

The administration is going against their own findings from their study, which showed that the updates in nutrition standards have had a positive and significant effect. This makes absolutely no sense. Politics and industry pressure should not interfere with what is best for children’s health.

Too little pizza and too many veggies at school? We’re pretty sure this is not a problem.

Click here, here, and here for more on these proposals.

Veggie Cups for School Lunch, USDA photograph by Bob Nichols / flickr

Subscribe by email to follow the accumulating evidence and observations that shape our view of health, obesity, and policy.


January 21, 2020

One Response to “Solving the Problem of Too Many Fruits and Veggies at School”

  1. January 21, 2020 at 8:35 am, Mary-Jo said:

    Aside from getting children to eat more wholesome, so many other great strides were happening — local farmers and growers getting contracts to provide fruit and veg to schools, jobs for skilled short-order cooks at schools to cleverly create and deliver tastier meals from healthier ingredients, staff and kids visually being educated on what a more balanced diet looks like, for example. That will all decrease or be let go. Now, with this latest deregulation, anti-Obama contortion, as the trucks start to more regularly roll in again with ultra-processed fries, pizza, meat-like patties, probably more packaged cookies, pastries, puddings etc., too, the biggest winners are BigFood corporate cats. 1-Profits: 0-health of country