Concerns over School Lunch Rules Continue to Grow, Says Noem

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Concerns over School Lunch Rules Continue to Grow, Says Noem 

New GAO report shows participation in National School Lunch Program declines by 1.4 million in last four school year

kristi noem headshot May 21 2014WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Kristi Noem today expressed continued concern after the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released an updated study showing National School Lunch Program participation declined by 1.4 million children – or 4.5 percent – between the 2010-11 school year and the 2013-14 school year. The non-partisan agency also reported that “new federal nutrition requirements contributed to the decrease.”

“My husband and I work hard to make sure healthy food goes on our kids’ plates at home, but we understand that if it doesn’t taste good, our kids aren’t going to eat it. I think that’s something most parents have experienced,” said Noem. “This report once again shows that if families can afford it, more and more are sending their kids to school with a sack lunch, but if finances are tight, kids are forced to stay in the program. I remain very concerned that the new regulations scheduled to take effect in the coming years will only make this phenomena worse.”

The new GAO report, which was an update to a study requested by Noem and Education and Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline, shows a continued decline in school meal program participation since the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act took effect in 2010. Prior to the 2010-11 school year, participation in the program had been increasing steadily for many years. Click here to view a copy of the full report.

Noem has been vocal about her opposition to the new regulations. While she agrees we must do all we can to make sure kids are healthy, Noem opposes the one-size-fits-all solution that can leave kids feeling hungry and impose increased costs on local school districts.

In March 2015, Noem introduced the Reducing Federal Mandates on School Lunch Act, which would:

· Allow schools to maintain the previous whole grain requirements. Without this change, 100 percent of the grains that schools are required to serve students would be whole-grain rich, pushing items like tortillas and pasta largely off the menu. Noem’s bill would restore the requirement back to 50 percent, meaning at least half of the grains served would be required to be whole-grain rich.

· Maintain Target 1 sodium requirements. Absent a change, schools would have a difficult time serving healthy foods that include milk, cheese, meat and other foods with naturally occurring sodium.

· Give administrators flexibility on some of the rules that have increased costs for school districts, including the school breakfast program, a la carte options, and school lunch price increases.

· Make the USDA’s easing of the meat and grain requirements permanent through law, rather than regulations. This would give certainty to schools that they’ll be allowed more flexibility in serving meats and grains while still staying within calorie maximums.

Noem introduced similar legislation in the 113th Congress as well. The bill has been endorsed by the National School Board Association and the School Superintendents Association.


10 thoughts on “Concerns over School Lunch Rules Continue to Grow, Says Noem”

  1. The Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act is a complete misnomer. Maybe after Michelle is our former queen things will get better.

  2. There are tons of factors at play here. Studies have shown that:
    *The nutritional guidelines set forth by the USDA have made school lunch less palatable according to students
    *There is increased food waste since those guidelines have been put into practice
    *There are increased costs to serve healthier foods
    *While overall participation is down, the participation rate is actually up slightly in the poorest districts
    *Agri-business and food service companies lobby congress to protect their cut of the $43 billion school lunch market
    *Fat parents shouldn’t shove their fat kids full of Cheetos and Mountain Dew and then bitch when when Tubby Timmy complains about how gross a healthy lunch is

    I may (or may not) have made that last one up.

    1. Your last comment fits Moochele Obama and her kids perfectly.

      I don’t know how such a oversized caboose has any credibility to tell the rest of us how to feed our children.

  3. Looking over the standards, a meal that contains 700 calories is more than adequate, if all you are counting is calories.
    But if you look at the requirements, no more than 10% of the calories can come from saturated fat, or 70 calories.
    Then you look at the protein, and realize that if they are only getting, at most, 2 ounces of meat, it’s unlikely they are getting more than 12 gms of protein, or about 50 calories.

    This means two things: (1) the milk they are getting is probably fat free. It costs less, and since 8 ounces of 2% milk has 3 gms of saturated fat equal to 27 calories, that’s probably what they are getting. Are they drinking it? Most kids hate the stuff.
    And (2) it means the remaining 580 calories in that meal are carbs. Carbs are empty calories, don’t contribute to satiety, trigger insulin production and are promptly converted to body fat. As soon as the pancreas has them socked away in your fat cells, you are hungry again. Eating carbs makes you fat and hungry.

    1. So grades 9-12 can have 750-850 calories for lunch. No more than 75-85 of those calories can be saturated fat.
      The 8 ounces of milk they get have 8 gms of protein, 32 calories, and the 2-3 ounces of meat might contribute 12-15 gms of protein, or 48-60 calories. The fat and protein add up to 155-177 calories of the total 750-850 calories for the meal. Most of that meal, then, is all carbs. Sorry if the numbers are variable, it depends on what kind of lean meat you figure in, 2 ounces of roasted chicken will yield 13 gms of protein.
      That’s one thing that really bothers me about the standards, all the emphasis on fat and sodium restrictions, no concern for the huge quantity of carbs or even ensuring adequate protein intake.

  4. From fighting terrorists to knowing what kids should eat, Kristi proves herself to be an expert on everything! You go girl! Keep on keeping those knitting church ladies happy.

  5. Or maybe the economy has been improving, thus fewer families are dependent or qualify for the reduced cost program and enhanced discretionary income promotes sack lunches with some extras because they can afford it. It’s just a thought…. And any how, isn’t this just a socialistic program? Why does the GOP care? You should leave this problem, if there really is one, to the Dems, especially Bernie and his friends….;-)

  6. I would like to see “the powers to be” eat a school lunch, then go to athletic practice and arrive home about 6 or 7 o’clock. By 3:00, athletes could chew the leg off a table.
    Our grandsons were lean athletes who consumed lots of calories in school. Now they’re through college and eat far less. School kids are growing and they need decent food – lots of it.
    I worked at a school and saw many go home at noon because school lunch was (face it) not that tasty. Our old cooks did a much better job and cooked from scratch, then they retired and the new ones ordered everything off the truck in plastic bags and called it “cooking”. Na da.

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