Local school officials eagerly await new, less restrictive nutrition guidelines

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act put in place by former First Lady Michelle Obama had put restrictions on what schools can serve for lunch and breakfast

AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The Trump Administration is delaying some of the rules put in place during the Obama era aimed at making school meals healthier for kids.

One local school district is looking forward to some of those changes.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act put in place by former First Lady Michelle Obama had put restrictions on what schools can serve for lunch and breakfast.

Now, the U. S. Department of Agriculture is working to give schools more flexibility when it comes to serving healthy food.

Come next school year, schools will be able to once again serve flavored one-percent milk, as opposed to skim. They will no longer have to reduce sodium levels in breakfast and lunch. It’s all part of a new ruling from the USDA.

Austintown Fitch Superintendent Vincent Colaluca says this latest ruling will actually help them overcome some of the challenges they were facing from the Obama Administration.

“This administration is listening all the way back to the local directors. Local directors have asked for some adjustments,” said Austintown Superintendent Vincent Colaluca. “We actually did see a decrease in lunch count and kids throwing away more food.”

The USDA is also now allowing schools to get waivers from the state to serve grains that are not whole grain, something Austintown’s food service director Alexis Weber is looking forward to.

“You look at your menu and think about what the kids would enjoy most if it went back to being regular, enriched grains. In my opinion as a dietician, enriched grains are just as important as whole grains,” said Weber said.

The waivers were in place before, but the new guidelines allow schools to show the state it’s hard to get foods that meet requirements or that it’s food the kids just do not like.

“Kids are going to eat what they want to eat anyways, and we want to make sure that above all they eat,” Weber said.

Weber says if a student doesn’t eat, they lose out on calories that take away their energy to learn. While the superintendent says he doesn’t mind regulations, he just wants local boards to have the ability to make those changes in a timely manner rather than just all at once.