School lunch could lose some of its nutrition if new USDA rules pass

Posted at 10:10 PM, Jan 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-17 22:43:43-05

NORFOLK, Va. - Standing in the cafeteria line waiting for lunch isn’t just another meal for some students. For many, it’s the only nutritious meal they get each day.

Ruth Jones Nichols, the president of Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore, knows this firsthand.

“In our service area, there are over 160,000 individuals impacted by hunger and food insecurity. We know that a significant number of these individuals are children,” says Jones Nichols.

Through many programs at the Foodbank, they are able to help bridge the hunger gap.

“In our backpack program alone, as an example, we distribute about 65,000 bags of nutritious foods over the weekends, but that is only meeting a portion of the need,” she adds.

Jones Nichols says the new proposed rules by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to “simplify” the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs is detrimental.

The changes include adjusting the amount of fruit and vegetable servings from a cup to half a cup to help reduce waste and increasing flexibility in vegetable subgroups. Potatoes will now be considered a vegetable.

”For children in particular, it would not make sense for us to take away something they need to be productive in school,” said Jones Nichols.

Looking at Hampton Roads, in four of the major school districts more than 50% of students are eligible for free lunch - and in three of those districts, it's more than 70%.

Jones Nichols says it’s time for the community to take action.

“We also hope that our community will contact their elected officials and let them know what they think about the proposed changes and the detrimental impact that these changes could have on children.”

For more on the proposed rules, click here.