WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump is scaling back the contentious lunch program implemented by President Obama, adding back foods Obama eliminated at the behest of his wife, Michele Obama.
The U.S. school lunch program is making room on menus again for noodles, biscuits, tortillas and other foods made mostly of refined grains.
The Trump administration is scaling back contested school lunch standards pushed by Obama, including requiring that only whole grains be served. Now only half the grains served will need to be whole grains, a change will do away with requiring schools to obtain special waivers to serve refined grains foods.
Low-fat chocolate milk will also be added back in. Previously, only fat-free milk could be flavored. A goal to limit sodium will be done away with, but schools will still need to meet sodium reduction levels.
Not everyone welcomed the relaxed rules.
For the current school year, the USDA said 20 percent of schools were applying for exemptions to the whole-grain rule. Pasta, tortillas, biscuits and grits were the most commonly requested items for exemption, it said.
The USDA school lunch program provides low-cost or free lunches in public schools and other institutions. Last year, it served an estimated 30 million children.
Brandon Lipps, deputy undersecretary for the USDA’s food and nutrition division, said that at some schools that only serve whole grain foods, some is wasted if students won’t eat it. In those cases, schools might now consider other options, Lipps said. The USDA defines whole grain-rich foods as at least 50 percent whole grains.