TCAPS React to New USDA Proposed Ruling to Rollback School Meal Requirements

The Trump Administration has proposed new rules that would rollback some of the guidelines for school meals. That means you could see some changes to your child’s lunch options at school.

The USDA says the proposed rule would increase flexibility for local school districts to serve food they want to eat, by:

  • Allowing local schools to offer more vegetable varieties;
  • Making it easier for schools to offer school lunch entrees for a la carte purchase, thereby reducing food waste;
  • Providing schools options to customize meal patterns to best serve children in different grades or smaller schools who eat together;
  • Supporting a more customized school breakfast environment by letting schools adjust fruit servings and making it simpler to offer meats/meat alternates, ultimately encouraging breakfast options outside the cafeteria so students can start their day with a healthy breakfast; and
  • Shifting to a performance-focused administrative review process that is less burdensome and time consuming, which would increase collaboration with operators to improve program integrity.

However, some people fear that with this extra flexibility local school districts could reduce the amount of healthy food options.

Traverse City Area Public Schools says, despite the proposed rule, they do not plan to change the amount of healthy food options they offer to their students.

TCAPS offer a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to their students in their salad bar.

“Sometimes they eat it all and sometimes they don’t but the idea is that they’re seeing those choices and that they have choices,” says Ambur Hammond, kitchen leader at Traverse Heights Elementary School.

Now the USDA is proposing a rule that would simplify some of those requirements schools face.

TCAPS Food Service Director Tom Freitas says, “One of the proposals that they’re doing is changing the fruit and vegetable requirement, where kids wouldn’t have to necessarily have to take as much fruit or vegetable, which we don’t agree with.”

That’s because when kids eat better, they do better.

“We have some students who don’t get a chance to eat very healthy food at home,” Hammond says. “It’s very important that we’re offering them food here that’s keeping them healthy, keeping their brains healthy and their bodies healthy.”

However, Freitas says he agrees with one part of the rule where the schools would have surprise health monitoring visits rather than scheduled visits.

“They let us know they’re going to come in and do a complete review of our operations, they’ll tell us what building they’re going to come in, they’ll tell us what day they’re going to come in and obviously when you know all of those things you can change your operations to fit the regulations,” Freitas says.

Filling bellies with food that will fuel their brains.

“When they eat right they do better in academics, better in extracurricular activities, it’s all part of our blueprint is to support of the schools,” Freitas says.

You have until March 23 to submit your thoughts on the proposed ruling.

For a full list of the rulings proposed, click here.

Categories: Michigan This Morning