Last Thursday, President Donald Trump’s administration rolled back some of the Obama era rules that aimed to make school lunches healthier but left many expressing their disdain for what turned out to be unappetizing meals. Around 30 million children will potentially see certain menu items return, like low-fat flavored milk, and may see less whole grains.
The 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Act, according to a report by the Daily Mail, set specific requirements for school lunches. This included calorie maximums, reductions in the amount of sodium and trans fat, and the addition of more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
— Jennifer Szczyrbak (@jszczyrb) March 30, 2016
While the rules put forth during the Obama administration, mainly in support of Michelle Obama’s campaign to promote healthy eating, may have been well-intentioned, they also led to a slew of complaints.
Many students chose to avoid school lunches entirely, while others posted images on social media of the meals with the hashtag #thanksmichellobama.
— Betsy Ettinger (@BetsyEttinger) April 19, 2016
The new rules announced by the Trump administration don’t do away with all of the tenants set forth during Obama’s time in office. While the options to provide low-fat flavored milk returns, schools will still need to maintain lower sodium levels, though not to the same degree as initially required.
— Hunter Schwarz (@hunterschwarz) September 1, 2015
Under the new rules, refined grains will also be more accessible, making the return of noodles, tortillas, and biscuits in many schools likely. Schools often struggled to acquire whole grain versions of those foods, leading most exemption requests filed in accordance with the Obama regulations to revolve around those ingredients.
— Noah Cole Jordan (@noah_jordan6) September 6, 2016
Not everyone is happy about the rollback. The American Heart Association is asking schools to “stay the course.” The Center for Science in the Public Interest hopes that the whole grain standards remain, largely because many schools are already fully compliant.
— camryn (@camrynltfb) December 2, 2015
Reaction to the news on social media is mixed. Some believe that the Obama reforms were ineffective, often because students avoided the updated menus. Others claim that healthy eating should be a parent’s responsibility and that schools shouldn’t be burdened to meet the Obama requirements.
Some feel that the change will be harmful, making healthy food harder to come by for some students.