Wednesday, December 10, 2014

House spending bill allows schools to stop serving whole-grains if it is too expensive

To serve whole-grains or to not serve whole-grains. House Republicans filed a $1.1 trillion year-end spending bill Tuesday night "that includes a provision that would allow schools to get around a whole-grains requirement in school meals if it’s too expensive or schools are having trouble finding alternatives," reports Agri-Pulse, a Washington newsletter. "The provision stops short of the broad waiver from nutrition standards that was included in the House Appropriations Committee’s fiscal 2015 legislation."

Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), the chair of the House Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee, "said the whole-grains waiver was the most that Republicans could do for now," Agri-Pulse writes. "Next year, when the [Grand Old Party] controls the Senate, they could expand the waiver for fiscal 2016 and possibly roll back the standards through reauthorization of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Aderholt said, “Come Jan. 6 when the new Senate gets sworn in then it is a new day." Agri-Pulse is subscription only, but a free trial is available by clicking here.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the House is pushing for a floor vote as early as Thursday, David Rogers reports for Politico. "In the case of nutrition and school lunch standards promoted by first lady Michelle Obama—a clear flash point—the House retreated to compromises crafted by Senate Democrats. School districts are promised more flexibility in meeting requirements for some items such as whole grain products. But this is far less than the broad waiver that had been promoted in the House."

The School Nutrition Association has joined several major food companies to oppose the rules. Some students have refused to eat the healthier foods and have gone to social media to post photos of what they say are unappetizing meals. After a recent tour of schools U.S. Department of Agriculture deputy under secretary for food Janey Thornton said school lunches are too short to eat healthy meals.

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