Chocolate milk is heading back to school lunches as the Trump administration is rolling back rules that Michelle Obama championed during her time as First Lady.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said on Thursday that the USDA will be serving meals to students that are both nutritious and appealing.
He said in a statement, “If kids are not eating what is being served, they are not benefiting, and food is being wasted.”
“These common-sense flexibilities,” he added, “provide excellent customer service to our local school nutrition professionals while giving children the world-class food service they deserve.”
The new rules will allow the schools to now serve flavored, low-fat milk.
Additionally, only half of the grains being served will be whole grains, and schools will be given additional time to reduce the amount of sodium being served in its meals.
These rollbacks, however, met sharp criticism from the American Heart Association telling schools to “stay the course.”
“U.S.D.A.’s decision to weaken the standards, despite overwhelming opposition, threatens to reverse our progress toward ensuring our nation’s children receive healthy meals at school that help them attain better long-term health and academic success,” the Association said.
The Association continued its criticism saying, “If the concern truly was to provide those few schools experiencing challenges with more ‘flexibility,’ the more responsible approach would have been for U.S.D.A. to provide more technical assistance to these institutions so they could offer healthier food choices.”
Those in favor of the new rules argue, though, that finding whole grains for some food items can prove to be difficult depending on which region a school is located.
Diane Pratt-Heavner, a spokeswoman for the School Nutrition Association said that while finding whole grains for hamburger buns and other bread items isn’t really an issue, finding whole grains for other regional items could be problematic.
For instance, whole grains for biscuits and grits are difficult to find in southern regions, while tortillas are difficult in the southwest.
The SNA reports that one of their surveys found that 65 percent of schools have reported difficulty in meeting the whole grain requirements.
Additionally, president of the association Gay Anderson said, “This final rule strikes a healthy balance.”
“Schools will continue to meet strong nutrition standards but can prepare meals that appeal to a wide range of students,” she said.
The rules will go into effect during the 2019-2020 school year.