business news in context, analysis with attitude

Content Guy’s Note: Stories in this section are, in my estimation, important and relevant to business. However, they are relegated to this slot because some MNB readers have made clear that they prefer a politics-free MNB; I can't do that because sometimes the news calls out for coverage and commentary, but at least I can make it easy for folks to skip it if they so desire.
• The New York Timesm reports that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced “final plans to lower nutrition standards for grains, flavored milks and sodium in school cafeterias that were part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 and that Michelle Obama, the former first lady, had advocated … The Trump administration asserts in the new rules that administrators have struggled to find food products that meet these standards while also pleasing students. Schools have been able to request exemptions from the rules if they demonstrate financial hardship, and the government has said the most popular requests have been for regional staples like grits in the South and tortillas in the Southwest.

“But the current administration asserted that the exemptions process was not sustainable and that some schools found it too burdensome.”

However, the Times notes that “a 2016 news release from the USDA said that more than 99 percent of schools in the country reported that they were meeting the Obama-era standards.”

The Times writes that “the changes, all of which will go into effect by July, apply to school meals that qualify for at least some federal reimbursement. They may seem relatively minor on paper, but like many Trump administration moves to reverse Obama-era policies, they come with some controversy.”

Among the specific changes…

While Obama-era rules “required that schools must serve entirely ‘whole grain-rich’ foods,” meaning that such products had to “contain at least 50 percent whole grains,” the new rules say that “only half of the grain products on the cafeteria’s weekly menu must be whole grain-rich. Theoretically, that means schools could serve all whole grain-rich food three days a week and food made with refined grains the other two days.”

As for milk, “the Trump administration is allowing schools to serve low-fat flavored milks, rather than just the nonfat version. This change was already in place for this school year, but Thursday’s announcement made it permanent. The rationale, according to the new rules, is to make sure children keep up their milk consumption.”

The Times goes on: “The School Nutrition Association, an advocacy organization that represents school-food professionals, cheered the new regulations in a news release on Thursday, praising the Trump administration for its flexibility with the standards. The group counts many of the country’s largest food companies among its backers.”
KC's View:
I’ve always felt that as much as schools have a responsibility for educating our children, provoking them to think and analyze and challenge and even dream of what they can achieve and how they can move our culture forward, they also have a responsibility to help them understand things like nutrition and health, and how these factors affect their lives. Sometimes that costs more, sometimes it is harder to source these products, and sometimes it means not just giving kids what they want, but what they need. (That’s why we read Hemingway and Fitzgerald and Faulkner.)