May 20, 2014 1:46 PM by David Randall
The debate over healthier school food is heating up today on Capitol Hill, where a house subcommittee will consider easing government rules that critics say result in costlier, less tasty menus.
Supporters of the stricter food guidelines, including First Lady Michelle Obama- say allowing an opt-out for schools will hurt children in the long run.
As part of a cause championed by The First Lady emphasizing fruit and vegetables, for the past two years, the food on students' lunch trays has been getting increasingly healthier.
But this fall, schools will have to go further, reducing sodium levels and only offering whole grains.
The School Nutrition Association, says the guidelines go too far. "We need a little more time to get the kids used to what we're offering and have the products available that we can get at a reasonable cost and that students will accept," says School Nutritionist, Leah Schmidt.
Now a house subcommittee is considering giving struggling schools a one year waiver from the requirements in response to complaints about higher food costs, reduced participation in the school lunch program and more unwanted food ending up in the trash.
It's a big mistake according to nutrition advocates. "Kids complain about school lunch, that's been happening for a long time. Kids also complain about math and science. That doesn't mean we stop teaching math just because kids would rather not learn it," said Center for Science in the Public Interest's, Margo Wootan.
Supporters of the healthier standards say cutting schools a break will hurt students health in the long run.
The USDA has already shown some flexibility. In 2012, they changed limits on proteins and grains after students complained they were hungry.