On May 1, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue announced that USDA requirements for healthier school lunch programs are going to be revised, allowing for more flexibility in nutrition requirements. 

What we're moving away from:

Former First Lady Michelle Obama spearheaded the previous school lunch program. She reformed the school lunch program to improve youth nutrition and aimed to tackle childhood obesity.

Why is this change happening?

juice, sweet
Gabby Phi

This week's revision is said to be a result of "feedback from students, schools and food service experts" regarding the challenges of meeting the previous regulations while providing food that kids want to eat. 

Schools have faced financial burdens in attempt to adhere to the current requirements. Some states have reported a decrease in participation of the school lunch programs.

What this change looks like:

vegetable, egg, gelatin, jam
Rachel Hartman

This means all the initiatives for more whole grains, less salt, and more milk to fuel the young brains of America are being eased up on.

Under the revised rules, schools will be allowed to opt out of providing whole grains in meals through 2018. Schools will now have flexibility to raise the salt intake per meal to higher levels.

Based on Obama-era regulations, schools were targeted through 2020 towards 1000 mg of salt per meal. They were also supposed to keep the recommendation from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans in mind. The goal was to consume less than 2300 mg of sodium per day. 

With milk options more flexible, 1 percent chocolate milk will be back on the menu at school breakfasts and lunches. 

The response is not a happy one.

Just before the inauguration in January, Michelle Obama said on The Tonight Show, "I hope [the school lunch program] does not get touched because it makes sense. We have to keep doing things that make sense for our future."

Health experts are not happy about the USDA's move. It's being viewed as a step backwards for school meal programs that have been successful. More than 99 percent of schools were complying with the school lunch program. 

In a press release from the American Heart Association, CEO Nancy Brown said that if the standards were kept in place, there was potential to decrease childhood obesity by more than 2 million cases by 2025. 

Maybe the school meal programs that were in effect weren't perfect, but this is a step in the wrong direction. Making no changes is fair, but reverting back to high salt and no whole grains certainly isn't going to get the brains of America's future fueled and ready to go.