Politics

New school lunch rules: Trump administration makes it easier to serve white bread  

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Here's who gets rich from school lunch

The Trump administration's Agriculture Department announced its final plans this month to roll back certain regulations from the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act. The main takeaway: less whole grains and more salty foods.

The new rules will loosen nutrition guidelines on flavored milk, whole grains and sodium in nearly 99,000 schools across the country.

Lunchrooms will be able to serve low-fat flavored milk, as opposed to only non-fat flavored milks. And schools won't have to lower their sodium levels as quickly as required under the Obama-era Healthy and Hunger-Free Kids Act.

Under the old rules, schools had to serve only "whole grain-rich" foods unless they applied for a waiver. That meant the items needed to be made of at least 50 percent whole grains. Now, only half of kids' weekly grain intake will be required to be "whole grain-rich." That could open up school cafeterias to serve things like white bread and flour tortillas.

While nutrition advocates note that much of the 2010 law remains in place, they say the relaxed guidelines are a step in the wrong direction.

"Increasing whole grains and limiting sodium are important goals, and it's frustrating that the progress we have seen in recent years will now come to a screeching halt," said Marlene Schwartz, director of the Rudd Center for Obesity & Food Policy.

The new rules were first announced in May 2017, and will go into effect by July 2019.

School lunches haven't always been political. In fact, they started as charity. Along the way, the National School Lunch Program became the focus of lobbying efforts and corporate influence.

Check out the video above for a history of school lunches in America, and the money behind the politics.

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Digital Original

The fight against 'fake meat' has officially begun

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Key Points
  • The U.S. Cattlemen's Association has filed a petition with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  • The group is looking for an official definition for the terms "beef" and "meat."
  • The move comes as more plant-based meat products are coming to the market.