From an editorial in The San Diego Union-Tribune on Monday:
The Trump administration’s decision to relax some of the school lunch rules involving sodium intake, whole grain content and milk approved in 2012, following the provisions of a 2010 law adopted at the behest of then-first lady Michelle Obama, drew fire from some health experts. An American Heart Association official warned that “there could be serious health consequences” for students.
But in explaining the decision to give school districts the option to not meet strict standards, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue made a crucial point: “If kids aren’t eating the food, and it’s ending up in the trash, they aren’t getting any nutrition – thus undermining the intent of the program.” Patricia Montague, CEO of the School Nutrition Association, agreed with the decision: “We have been wanting flexibility so that schools can serve meals that are both nutritious and palatable. We don’t want kids wasting their meals by throwing them away.”
The evidence that the lunch rules backfired is considerable. A 2013 study estimated that 1.1 million students had stopped buying school lunches in the 2012-13 school year, the first year-to-year decline after nearly a decade of steady increases.
Good intentions don’t always pay off with good results. Having a healthy school lunch menu achieves nothing if the lunch goes uneaten.