From an editorial Monday in the Washington Post:
Five years ago, Congress brought some healthfulness to the National School Lunch Program, which spends more than $10 billion a year to feed about 30 million K-12 students. The law is up for renewal this month, and the School Lunch Industrial Complex is trying to make it less healthful again.
The overhaul five years ago favored whole grains over heavily processed carbohydrates, less salt, and a minimum serving of fruits or vegetables per meal. These rules weren’t thrown together willy-nilly by vegan activists; they were developed carefully after an independent expert review at the Institute of Medicine.
And school lunches have gotten healthier. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found last month that the number of schools offering two or more fruits and vegetables in their meals has shot up. Nearly one-third of schools now have salad bars.
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But the school lunch lobby has been waging a rear-guard action ever since the rules started to phase in. The lobby’s current demands include curtailing the whole-grain and sodium requirements and loosening the rule that children must take fruits or vegetables with their meals.
If lawmakers worry that cafeterias can’t meet federal standards under current budget constraints, they should raise the federal reimbursement for school lunches rather than go back to meals more likely to induce obesity and heart problems.