While it’s unclear whether the Trump administration will continue to scale back school lunch requirements passed as part of the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, it is clear that school lunches have improved over all and that district officials have worked with local farmers and with students to make meals more appealing, according to an article in The New York Times.
At a summer convention of the School Nutrition Association, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue suggested that the Obama-era rules were too strict and that the creativity among school nutrition professionals was being stifled, the article says.
The article also noted the creation of the School Food Institute, which will offer online courses and other resources for those interested in school nutrition.
While former First Lady Michelle Obama spent much of her time championing the 2010 law governing the National School Lunch Program, there was significant backlash, reports of students turning up their noses at the healthier options, partisan battles and complaints from school district officials that the new guidelines were too expensive.
So far, Perdue has allowed minor changes to the law, including allowing districts more time to apply for exemptions and a longer timeline for reducing the amount of sodium in school meals. Instead of nonfat flavored milk, schools can now serve flavored milk with 1% fat, according to the article.
In spite of how politicized the school meal debate has become, longitudinal research on the law’s implementation, shows that the regulations led to improvements in the nutritional quality of school meals and did not have a significant negative impact on meal participation.