The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture are opposing a law that has affected the lunches of students nation-wide.
The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, was passed to overhaul the lunch and breakfast programs that are provided at public schools. The act, which was signed into law on Dec. 13, 2010, sets certain requirements on meals, some of which include containing no more than 30 percent of calories from fat and no more than 10 percent of calories from saturated fats.
According to HealthySchoolLunches.com, schools can use five different menu planning systems to meet the requirements set out by the USDA. These systems include food-based, enhanced food-based, nutrient-standard, assisted nutrient standard and alternate menu planning.
Doug Goehring, the agriculture commissioner for North Dakota, said that National Association of State Departments of Agriculture is for a more balanced approach.
“Obesity is serious, it’s a national problem, but we need to be careful about overly restrictive guidelines,” he said. “The current plan is not as effective since it’s more one size fits all, and most importantly, cutting out important proteins.”
Locally, the implementation of the act can already be seen. Beth Beyer, a lunch cook at Wahpeton Middle School, explained that there has been more of a limit on grain foods, and much more fruits and vegetables are being served. The effects are also financial, as the costs are increased when buying whole grain and lower sodium products.
Goehring added that the national association extensively discussed the area of fruits and vegetables and agreed those foods should not be taken out or reduced. The main concern is having more protein available to the students.
“How do we curb this issue on obesity if we send children home hungry? Those that have a few dollars in their pocket stop at the convenience store and buy the cheapest thing on the shelf, which has more fats and sugars,” he said.
One group that understands what leaders from all parts of the country are pushing for in the issue is the students themselves. Wahpeton Middle School students Hunter Waldera and Jacob Albers said that these plans were positive: “They’re trying to help us.”