One of Michelle Obama’s signature programs as First Lady—healthier and much more complicated public school lunches—is getting taken off the menu.
Newly appointed Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has announced that his agency will introduce “regulatory flexibility” for the National School Lunch program. Started in 1945 under President Harry Truman, the program now serves more than 100,000 kids in public and private schools.
Perdue’s intervention will allow higher sodium content in food, allow cafeterias serve non-whole grain rich products on occasion, and permits the sale of flavored milk.
The program gained notoriety when the Obama administration increased funding and dietary restrictions for the program. In 2012, the federal government enacted strict standards mandating serving sizes by creating a maze of categries of food types along with colored vegetables and fruit.
President Obama’s focus on school lunches coincided with Michele Obama’s fight against childhood obesity. Parents and children complained about the modified lunches nationwide, saying the food was unappetizing or the portions were too small. Since the new rules were enacted dozens of schols that could afford it have opted out of the program because of cost and levels of waste.
Perdue announced the changes in a statement with Kentucky Senator Pat Roberts.
“We worked really hard the last two years to provide flexibility, but after unanimously passing a bipartisan bill out of Committee, our effort stalled,” Roberts said.
“The policies that Secretary Perdue has declared here today will provide the flexibility to ensure that schools are able to serve nutritious meals that children will actually eat. Because that is really what these programs are about: serving meals to hungry children so that they can learn and grow.”