Trump tossed Obama’s healthy meals, but not wellness goals
(District of Columbia) Even as President Donald Trump has moved to rollback much of the regulatory infrastructure left by the Obama administration, the nation’s K-12 schools face a deadline this year for complying with a student wellness mandate finalized last summer.
Under rules adopted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture while Barack Obama was still president, local educational agencies participating in the school lunch program must develop wellness policies that “promote the health of students and address the problem of childhood obesity.”
Elements required to be addressed include nutritional standards for all foods and beverages available on campus; goals for student physical activity; and whether marketing or advertising can be allowed for selling food on campus.
LEAs are expected to have policies in place sometime during the 2017-18 school year.
The new rules appear to be going forward despite a move in May by Trump’s Agriculture Secretary, Sonny Purdue, to scale back healthy lunch standards championed by former first lady Michelle Obama.
Under legislation signed by President Obama in 2010, LEAs were required to reduce the amount of sugar and sodium served in school meals while also adding more fruit and vegetables.
In announcing the rollback earlier this spring, Perdue said that kids were not eating the healthier and more costly food selections. He said the department would delay additional reductions in the amount of sodium used in school meals and extend a deadline on schools serving whole-grains and lower fat milk for at least three years.
Meanwhile, however, the USDA appears intent on enforcing the separate wellness standards, as well as the federal Smart Snack program.
The Smart Snack program establishes standards for foods sold out of vending machines or school fundraisers. Under the program, snacks must:
- Be a grain product that contains 50 percent or more whole grains by weight (have a whole grain as the first ingredient); or
- Have as the first ingredient a fruit, a vegetable, a dairy product, or a protein food; or
- Be a combination food that contains at least a quarter cup of fruits or vegetabls; and
- The food must meet the nutrient standards for calories, sodium, sugar, and fats:
- Contain no more than 200 calories for a snack, or 350 calories for an entrée;
- Contain no more than 200 mg of sodium for a snack, or 480 mg for an entrée;
- Contain no more than 35 percent total fat;
- Contain no more than 10 percent of calories in saturated fat;
- Contain no trans-fat; and
- Contain no more than 35 percent by weight in sugar.
The wellness policies must:
- Include specific goals for nutrition promotion and education, physical activity, and other school-based activities that are designed to promote student wellness;
- Standards and nutrition guidelines for all foods and beverages available on the school campus during the school day that are, at a minimum, consistent with Federal regulations for program meals and the Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards, and designed to promote student health and reduce childhood obesity; and
- Policies that allow marketing or advertising of only those foods and beverages that may be sold on the school campus during the school day, i.e., those foods and beverages that meet the Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards (available at http://www.fns.usda.gov/school-meals/fr-072916d).
LEAs are also required to:
- Review and consider evidence-based strategies in determining local school wellness goals;
- Involve, inform, and update the public (including parents, students, and other stakeholders) about the content and implementation of the local school wellness policy; and
- Conduct an assessment, at least once every three years, to determine compliance, progress, and the extent to which the policy compares to model local school wellness policies.