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In Our View/Schools and Nutritional Guidelines

Uphold healthy lunch rules

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It could be that the people trying to roll back rules for healthy changes to the national school lunch program simply need more of what was once known as “roughage” in their diet, since their thinking appears stuck, and more than a little full of baloney.
The rules, approved by Congress and envisioned and championed by First Lady Michelle Obama, include requiring more whole grains and setting limits on sodium, sugar and fat. Say it isn't so. How dare anyone try to limit our God-given right to consume too much sodium, sugar and fat and develop the accompanying diseases, (diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure, a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke) which now afflict so many Americans, young and old alike?
While the national PTA is pushing lawmakers to keep the standards, AP reports, the School Nutrition Association, which represents school nutrition directors and companies that sell food to schools, says it wants changes because the regulations are having the opposite effect intended.
“Our request for flexibility under the new standards does not come from industry or politics, it comes from thousands of school cafeteria professionals who have shown how these overly prescriptive regulations are hindering their effort to get students to eat healthy school meals,” said SNA's Leah Schmidt.
Such schools say limits on sodium and requirements for more whole grains are particularly challenging, while some school officials say kids are throwing away required fruits and vegetables.
That's the thing about problems — they are challenging. And to Americans, we are taught we don't give up because the going gets tough. If some schools are having trouble meeting the requirements, then they need extra help, and perhaps guidance from school districts that have made it work.
Why is this fundamental, nutritional change so important? Because of the diseases listed above, and other problems associated with our high sodium, sugar and fat diets. (Like early death.) A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition last year found that most U.S. preschoolers consume too much sodium, and nearly all do not consume enough potassium. (Emphasis ours.) Potassium is a much-needed mineral that helps regulate blood pressure (whereas sodium increases blood pressure) and is found in nearly all fruits and vegetables, (and in protein). Helping children eat healthfully will have life-long, positive effects.
For example: David Binkle, with the Los Angeles Unified School District, the country's second-largest, said school lunch participation is up in his district, along with test scores and graduation rates. “We're not just talking about food, we're talking about education,” he said.
Rather than tabling the regulations, help all schools achieve them.

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