Over the weekend, Senator John Hoeven (R-N.D.) announced USDA has agreed to ease the strict caloric intake rule for grains, starches and protein in the new National School Lunch and Breakfast Program to allow for more consumption meat and grains.
USDA's decision came in response to a bipartisan letter spearheaded by Hoeven and Senator Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) that was motivated by correspondence from parents, school board members and superintendents who have been dissatisfied with the one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition of the new federal school meal program.
According to Hoeven's press release on the matter, the senators were concerned about "strict calorie limits, proetein sufficiency, increased costs and a lack of flexibility to adapt the program to the individaual needs of some students." The pair elaborated that the rule was especially problematic for students in low-income families or athletics and that rules did not allow students get the protein needed for them to feel full throughout the day.
The rule was also troublesome for school districts with limited operating budgets, according to Hoeven.
The change is only for the 2012-13 school year, however, which prompted Hoeven to say that while he's grateful for to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack for recognizing more flexibility "individual differences among children and the prerogatives of local school districts, and resources available to them... the new flexibility should be permanent... we will continue to press that case."
The following senators also signed off on the letter: Sens. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), John Tester (D-Mont.), John Thune (R-S.D.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Jerry Moran (R-Kans.) and Dan Coates (R-Ind.) and Tim Johnson (D-S.D.).