The Healthier US Schools Challenge

Ahh yea, so I closed last time saying I’d go into the HUSSC, but never did so, didn’t I?

It’s been in the news that the USDA, or rather the branch of the USDA that is the Food and Nutrition Services (aka FNS) developed new guidelines for school lunches.  The lunches are divided into calorie ranges and a specific number of servings (minimum and maximum) allowed for one of three age groups divided into school grades, K-5, 6-8, and 9 – 12.  Let’s just forget the fact that a 5th grader needs more to eat than a 5 year old in kindergarten, right now.

On the one hand, I understand why they’ve set these guidelines, the obesity epidemic in the U.S. is out of control.  I understand that the number of calories per day is based on what a normal person should eat.

But kids are complaining they’re hungry, they’re not used to the choices, and it honestly sounds like the choices weren’t well explained.

Add to that, the food processing companies that sell to the schools aren’t keeping up with the new guidelines.  The schools have found that there aren’t enough choices offered by the food processing companies to allow them to stay within both the daily and weekly guidelines.

That’s not just counting meat/meat alternates.  They can’t find bread divided into the serving amounts they need for the smaller portion sizes.

The fruit regulations are a bit odd.  Commodity processed fruit comes packed in fruit juice.  But if the food processor repackages this commodity fruit into individual cups and distribute these cups frozen, then the fruit no longer meets the crediting guidelines because the fruit juice is considered added sugar once it’s frozen.

What really gets to me is hearing people blame Obama for these regulatory changes.  Sorry, most of this is bipartisan.  Ok, so Michelle Obama started the ‘Let’s Move’ campaign, and she’s encouraging the change in regulations, but that doesn’t mean that FNS based all their changes on her wanting healthier meals in the school.  They’ve finally looked at school meals and they’ve seen that they can’t lecture families on how to eat when they don’t have the food guidelines that meet the USDA guidelines for what we should eat at home.

Are these new regulations perfect? No.

Are they a step in the right direction? Maybe.  If the food processing companies would get their thumbs out and actually start offering what the schools need to be able to meet the guidelines.

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