BEEF Daily

USDA Backtracks On Changes To School Lunch Program



USDA changes stance on its school lunch program limitations.

It looks like USDA is backtracking on its stance to limit protein in school lunch programs.

Last week, USDA Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon announced that USDA is making permanent the current flexibility that allows schools to serve larger portions of lean protein and whole grains at mealtime.

Well, it’s about time. In the fall of 2012, USDA rolled out new "healthier" requirements for school lunch programs that were designed to limit calories and portion sizes as a way to fight childhood obesity. But the changes had kids and parents complaining about the food choices, and school districts upset with the heightened costs of compliance. After USDA received an overwhelming number of calls, letters and emails from concerned moms stating how their children are too hungry to concentrate in class and get through their sports practices because of the reduced food intake offered at lunchtime, USDA relented in December 2012 by temporarily adding flexibility to the requirements. It appears USDA is listening to the concern from schools, lawmakers and parents and is now acting to make that temporary flexibility permanent. 

According to a USDA press release, “USDA has worked closely with schools and parents during the transition to healthier breakfasts, lunches and snacks. Based on public feedback, USDA has made a number of updates to school meal standards, including additional flexibility in meeting the daily and weekly ranges for grain and meat, which has been available to schools on a temporary basis since 2012."

You can read the entire press release here.

I have closely followed this topic because I felt that the new MyPlate guidelines that were being foisted upon children in schools did a huge disservice to our nation’s youth -- starving them of important nutrients like animal fats and proteins in a perverse effort to combat childhood obesity. While the intentions might have been good, the consequences of the action weren’t so pretty.

Read my previous blog posts on the topic:

New USDA School Lunches Pack Protein

First Lady Obama, USDA Secretary Vilsack Do Lunch

Take Beef Off The Bad Food List

Do you think USDA’s initial changes to the school lunch program hurt our nation’s youth? What do you think about USDA adding protein back onto the menu? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


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Discuss this Blog Entry 3

Stephen (not verified)
on Jan 6, 2014

Being a beef producer and also working in our local school system, the ridiculousness I am now seeing in our school lunch program is absolutely hurting and not helping. Our kids used to eat the lunch being served. I now invite anyone and everyone to stand by the return dish area and watch the amounts of food now being discarded. Our percentage of kids now bringing their own food has exploded, but the problem is what they are bringing is not the answer either. Todays families goes for the quick and easy, and the prepackaged "lunchables" and mom dropping by with a bag from the local fast food place are not a good alternative by any means. The only plus I have seen is that in our small town, the fast food joints are very happy with the increase in sales they have seen starting at 2:30 pm. This is a fact that we have recorded in our schools, and I assume that we are not alone in this. Please allow us to return to the quality we used to offer our future.

on Jan 6, 2014

Starving kids was just bureaucratic hs from the start. Get the carbs out of the school lunch if you want those kids to loose weight. Push animal fats and animal protein. But that alone won't do it. They have got to get off their a$$ in school and out of school. Teach them how to drive a nail, shovel a walk, dig a ditch paint a wall, change a tire, sweep a floor........ earn a paycheck! Which would sure as hell be a novel approach these days.

Jeanne (not verified)
on Jan 6, 2014

Many children did not have proper nutrition as they were growing up through the Great Depression. When Uncle Sam began drafting these same children as young men for WW II their physicals indicated they had been malnourished. The young men were smaller than the young men drafted just 20+ years before for WW I.

Denying a child the needed protein and energy nutrition causes the body to literally feed on itself to obtain the nutrition it needs to function in play, learning, and existence. The body will either become gaunt and thin or it will crave the energy that satisfies the sweet tooth.

Proper nutrition habits begin in the home.

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BEEF Daily Blog is produced by rancher Amanda Radke, one of the U.S. beef industry’s top social media “agvocates.”


Amanda Radke

Amanda Radke is a fifth generation rancher from Mitchell, S.D., who has dedicated her career to serving as a voice for the nation’s beef producers. A 2009 graduate of South Dakota State...

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