Because I’m a foodie, school lunch has been a personal topic of interest over the past five years. See my past posts on the subject:

The US government’s emaciation of America’s schoolchildren (October 2012)

Young Americans hope Trump will make school lunch great again (January 2017)

I now have cause for rejoicing.

Sonny Perdue, President Donald Trump’s Secretary of Agriculture, has only been in the job since April 25, 2017, and, already, he’s making school lunch great again!

On Friday, April 28, the Daily Mail reported:

Sonny Perdue is set to introduce new standards that will give schools more flexibility in relation to the National School Lunch Program.

On May 1, The Guardian reported that new guidelines will pertain to sodium levels, milkfat and grain content (emphases mine below):

Perdue said the program was not effective because kids would not eat the healthier food.

“If kids aren’t eating the food and it’s ending up in the trash, they aren’t getting any nutrition, thus undermining the intent of the program,” Perdue said at a school in Leesburg, Virginia.

Perdue made his announcement at Catoctin Elementary School in Leesburg, Virginia to mark School Nutrition Employee Week. The USDA website has more, including this:

Schools have been facing increasing fiscal burdens as they attempt to adhere to existing, stringent nutrition requirements.  According to USDA figures, school food requirements cost school districts and states an additional $1.22 billion in Fiscal Year 2015.  At the same time costs are going up, most states are reporting that they’ve seen a decrease in student participation in school lunches, as nation-wide about one million students choose not to have a school lunch each day.  This impacts schools in two ways: The decline in school lunch participation means reduced revenue to schools while they simultaneously are encountering increased costs.

It doesn’t make sense, does it?

Of course, bureaucrats in Washington, DC, say Michelle Obama’s school lunch programme, initiated in 2012, is working because schools are complying with it!

“I was talking to some folks in Washington about this, and they said that the current program is working.  ‘How do you know?’ I asked.  They said it’s because 99 percent of schools are at least partially compliant.  Well, only in Washington can that be considered proof that the system is working as it was intended,” Perdue said. 

Too right!

Perdue, who is from the state of Georgia, gave a regional example:

“A perfect example is in the south, where the schools want to serve gritsBut the whole grain variety has little black flakes in it, and the kids won’t eat it.  The school is compliant with the whole grain requirements, but no one is eating the grits.  That doesn’t make any sense.”

Thank you!

Also:

“I’ve got 14 grandchildren, and there is no way that I would propose something if I didn’t think it was good, healthful, and the right thing to do,” Perdue said.  “And here’s the thing about local control: it means that this new flexibility will give schools and states the option of doing what we’re laying out here today.  These are not mandates on schools.

Brilliant!

The USDA announcement has details on the new, flexible programme and a PDF of Perdue’s proclamation.

This photo has a good comparison of school lunches:

It looks as if the USA example is the best case scenario there, because this is what American schoolchildren are normally eating:

 

You can see more awful school lunch pictures at Oola, a foodie site.

Perdue had a standard student lunch when he made his announcement at the Leesburg, Virginia school, one which he paid for (see $20 in his hand):

Here is what the students ate:

This is my favourite tweet from the day:

The Big Buddy bit is true:

Sonny Perdue was sworn in on April 25:

In his opening address to the USDA, he said he was a farmer first:

He rolled up his sleeves and got to work on Day 1:

Since then, he has been on the road visiting USDA employees elsewhere in the United States:

Look at the queue:

Passing on his father’s words to them, he said:

If you take care of the land, the land will take care of you.

Perdue paid a visit to American Royal in Kansas City. American Royal is a non-profit organisation that stages events throughout the year to help farmers and future farmers.

Perdue has a PhD in veterinary science and worked on his family’s farm before starting his own three small agribusinesses.

He must have been delighted to meet these youngsters:

He also met with members of the FFA (Future Farmers of America):

Here he is putting his veterinary experience to use:

He also visited a pork processing plant:

With Sonny Perdue, the future looks much brighter for American agriculture.

It should be noted that Sonny Perdue is not related to the Perdue chicken family.

Follow him @SecretarySonny on Twitter.

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