It’s the end of an era. Chocolate milk will now officially return to the menu at schools, reversing an Obama-era nutritional standard.
The Trump administration is easing the standards that President Obama had implemented and, among the changes, will be the appearance of 1 percent fat chocolate milk on school lunch menus.
According to ABC News, the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday published a new interim rule, effective July 1, which allows changes to school nutrition standards, including flavored milk, relaxed sodium limits and whole-grain requirements.
While flavored milk is currently allowed in schools, it can only be of the nonfat variety; unflavored milk must be low-fat or nonfat.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue explained to reporters in May: “This is not reducing the nutritional standards whatsoever. I wouldn’t be as big as I am today without flavored milk.”
In a new statement, Perdue noted: “Schools need flexibility in menu planning so they can serve nutritious and appealing meals. Schools want to offer food that students actually want to eat. It doesn’t do any good to serve nutritious meals if they wind up in the trash can.”
New rules are meant to allow “regulatory flexibility” for the National School Lunch Program, a federally assisted meal program, but critics are finding that these looser guidelines completely reverse Michelle Obama’s tighter Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act standards.
Those weighing in with comments on the ABC News coverage of the school lunch nutrition guidelines discussed children’s physical activity, with one person noting: “You’re right in saying that kids don’t get enough physical activity. Recess is becoming a thing of the past and parents are afraid to let their children go outside. But while providing nutritious meals is a good thing, it doesn’t provide any nutrition in the trash can. It has to be something kids will find appetizing. It’s all about striking a balance and rolling back these regulations will allow schools to do that once more.”
Other commenters compared the current school nutrition to their time growing up as a student, with one person pointing out: “I was at school in the late ’50s and early ’60s. We all ate everything we could get, fries were cooked in boiling lard (Mmmmm)) milk was all full-fat, butter went onto bread. There was no ‘obesity crisis.’ Why? Because we spent almost all of our free time outdoors, playing regular games like soccer and rugby (my favorite). Other times we were just out and about, running around playing war games, pirates, cowboys-and-Indians, you name it. The most important thing was that we were all ACTIVE. We weren’t forever engrossed in a mobile phone screen or hunched over a computer. Those things didn’t exist then. The most important thing was that we were allowed to be children, to run and play, to excercise physically. Such is not the case today.”
Another commenter, however, noted: “The food kids are eating today is nothing like you ate as a kid. It’s now all processed junk. Even kids with an active lifestyle are overweight and suffering the health consequences.”