USDA announces plans to lower Obama-era school lunch regulations

Hampden County

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced plans to lower Obama-era nutritional standards for grains, flavored milks and sodium served in school cafeterias. 

Under the previous regulations, schools had to serve “whole grain-rich” foods, and only non-fat milk could be flavored. 

Now, under these new regulations, the USDA said only half the grains served in schools will have to be whole grains. 

Foods made from mostly refined grains, like pasta, tortillas and hamburger buns can now be served, as well as flavored low-fat milks. 

“I don’t like the sandwiches,” said Avemarie Rivera, a Springfield Public Schools students. “I like the fruit.”

The new standards also provide more time to reduce sodium levels in school meals.

“They have to watch their calories, watch their weight,” said Avemarie’s father Eddie. “The obesity thing and everything going on with that.”

These new rules help schools have additional options for healthy and appealing meals, according to the USDA. One western Massachusetts parent thinks more options will be better. 

“If you have children that are picky eaters, I have a kindergarten who is a very picky eater, I think giving him more options would be terrific,” said Lisa Ball-Russo of South Hadley. 

As for Holyoke Public Schools, Judy Taylor told 22News they plan to stay the course with the higher standards for grains, but will begin serving flavored low-fat milk at lunch. 

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