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Obama-era School Lunch Standards being Scaled Back

December 13, 2018 12:44 PM

(ABC 6 News) - Changes are coming to your kids' school lunch and it could impact things like bread, pasta and even pizza crust.

"We serve about 5,800 meals a day, between breakfast and lunch,” said Austin Schools Food Service Director, Mary Weikum. “Every bit of it is whole grain, so kids are eating it.”

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It's a menu built on the idea of eating healthy but now one of the components of that is being scaled back.

"The last regulations called that all grains be whole grains or whole grain rich," explained Weikum; a regulation put in place by the Obama administration, "And now it's 50-percent."

The Trump administration is relaxing the requirement, in part to reduce the paperwork needed when schools ask for waivers from the rules.

"Whole grain products are more expensive than the white products [...] and you know if you're a smaller school you might not have access to all of the products that a larger school would have and it might be very difficult to comply," said Weikum.

But the American Heart Association is encouraging schools to continue meeting the stricter whole grain standards. "Whole grains contain those very important vitamins and minerals and also fiber that is stripped away in that refinement process to get those white grains,” explained Austin School District Nutritionist Tanner Lange.

“Kids love pizza still, and so we have to have whole-grain crust pizza and we had already switched all of our breads, so we had made that switch before it was even required," said Weikum.

“Kids are getting used to it, and I think it's becoming more palatable for them,” said Lange.

“We are at a hundred percent whole grain and we feel it is healthier for the kids and we probably will not go backward,” added Weikum.

The changes will also push back a "reduced salt" target date and will allow low-fat chocolate milk instead of just fat-free flavored milk.

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