TREND Winter 2017/2018 - Page 45

NCHES Education Policy by JC Bowman xibility for Child Nutrition in Fiscal Year 2015 (Ag Secretary Perdue Moves to Make School Meals Great Again). It is essential that federal control over public education be limited. Our policies should empower states and local school districts to have the ability to make menu planning, food procurement, and contract decisions for their meal programs. The United States Department of Agriculture recognizes that it takes food manufacturers “at least two to three years to reformulate and develop food products” to meet changing standards, a process that involves “innovation of new products, product research and development, testing, commercialization, launch, and marketing.” In addition, there are challenges of “developing technologies to help overcome consumers’ sensory barriers” and worth noting there is a “low level of demand for these products outside of the school audience.” In a diverse country, it is expected children would have different tastes and children would have different nutritional needs. These decisions are better determined at the state and local level, and not in Washington DC. For example, examine the issue of milk consumption where the federal government mandated that children in the breakfast or lunch program could only receive non-fat, skim milk. However, a recent study of preschool- aged children published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, a sister publication of the British Medical Journal, finds that 1%/skim milk drinkers had higher BMI z scores than 2%/whole milk drinkers. To be clear, previous federal mandates may have increased obesity in children rather than having the desired effect of slimmer and healthier kids. It would have been better policy if the federal government had issued suggested guidelines on any recommendation that lacked rigorous data to support its guidelines. Certainly, more definitive studies are needed on the subject matter. America’s nutrition safety net is critical for children and families across the nation. It is important to keep the bar high when it comes to serving nutritious food in our schools. However, unelected and often unaccountable bureaucrats in Washington DC should never exercise more power over states and local schools in determiWWning the needs and priorities of the communities they serve. School lunches/student nutrition are not partisan issues, nor should they be allowed to become one. The public can offer written comments on this interim final rule; comments must be received on or before January 29, 2018. This can be done online or by contacting Tina Namian, Chief, School Programs Branch, Policy and Program Development Division, Food and Nutrition Service, 703-305-2590. JC Bowman is the Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee.