School nutrition standards may be relaxed

Florida School Nutrition Association says it's the right move


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – How strict is too strict when it comes to school nutrition requirements? Standards set by the federal government could be getting scaled back and that will impact what your child is eating between classes.

Call it a food fight in Washington: School nutrition standards put in place in 2010 could now be relaxed. The Florida School Nutrition Association said it's the right move.

"Programs have lost money, children aren't eating the food that's being offered now, so we really want to be able to catch up," said Frances Gilbert, of FSNA.

The school food lobby group said school lunch participation dropped off in Florida by 15,000 meals a day because of the nutrition requirements.

"What they see is children not eating these fruits and vegetables, throwing away food," said Gilbert. "You can have the most nutritious meal in the world. If the child throws it away and doesn't eat it, it has not been nutritious for that student."

Stricter nutrition guidelines would mean 100 percent whole wheat grains next year, and more fruits and vegetables. The state's Department of Agriculture is providing free meals for kids throughout the summer.

Cathy Reed is one of the administers of the program in Leon County that feeds more than 3,000 kids a day.

"The federal proposal would allow schools losing money to be granted a waiver from the program," said Reed.

First lady Michelle Obama has been spearheading the healthier meals in schools effort.