The national 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 implemented under the Obama administration including one that required only whole grains be served, the AP reports. The US Department of Agriculture said Thursday only half the grains served will need to be whole grains, a change it said will do away with the current bureaucracy of requiring schools to obtain special waivers to serve select items made with refined grains. Low-fat chocolate milk will also be allowed again and a goal for limiting sodium will be scrapped. Previously, only fat-free milk could be flavored, although that rule had also been temporarily waived.
The School Nutrition Association, which represents local cafeteria operators and companies like Domino's Pizza, Kellogg, and PepsiCo, had called for the scale back of the whole grain-only requirement, saying it was too difficult for some districts to meet. Diane Pratt-Heavner, a spokeswoman for the association, said whole-grain bread and buns generally aren't a problem. But she said students complained about other items, in many cases because of cultural or regional preferences. Whole-grain biscuits and grits are also a challenge in the US South, she said, while tortillas are a challenge in the Southwest. Not everyone welcomed the relaxed rules. The American Heart Association encouraged schools to "stay the course" and commit to meeting the stricter standards that started going into effect in 2012. The Center for Science in the Public Interest also said the decision to roll back the whole-grain requirement makes no sense because most schools were already in compliance. (This school cook's choice of ingredient cost him his job.)