Schools are not allowed to opt out of healthy school meal standards, but a year end decision by Congress relaxing whole grain standards for school nutrition has eased some of the requirements on local budgets.
Schools also will not have to make school meals less salty, as the lower sodium standards that were supposed to go into effect in 2017 have been suspended for now.
Some school nutritionists have favored taking a break from the phasing in of the standards, as they feel the rules have been costly and restrictive. They also have noted that some children do not like the meals and are concerned about waste.
Schools have complained about the challenges of the whole grain standards, especially when preparing popular dishes such as pastas, biscuits, and tortillas. There are not many options for food service companies in the whole wheat varieties, and preparation can be more difficult. Some whole wheat pastas can be mushy and difficult to cook.
The bill will allow schools that can demonstrate a difficulty with finding and preparing whole grains to be exempt from the 2014 standards. They still have to adhere to previous guidelines that half their grain products be mostly whole grain.