NPR, December 7, 2018
Allison Aubrey

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School lunches are healthier than they were five years ago. But Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says schools need more flexibility in serving meals that kids will eat.

"If kids are not eating what is being served, they are not benefiting, and food is being wasted," Perdue said in a statement announcing a rule that is set to be published later this month.

The rule will give administrators more leeway in serving up white breads, biscuits, tortillas and white pastas by requiring that only half of the grains served in school meals each week be whole-grain rich. Currently schools are only allowed to serve whole grain-rich breads and pastas unless they get a waiver. In addition, the administration is putting the brakes on the targets developed during the Obama administration to cut back on sodium.

"We will continue to listen to schools, and make common-sense changes as needed, to ensure they can meet the needs of their students based on their real-world experience in local communities," Perdue wrote in a statement.

The changes drew the ire of nutrition advocates who have played a significant role in pushing for healthier school meals. [...]

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