KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Food Fight Shaping Up Over School Lunch Waivers

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says he could accept a Senate compromise on school lunch standards but that he strongly opposes a House Appropriations Committee plan that would grant waivers to school districts that say they can't afford to comply with the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act.

The Washington Post: School Cafeteria Food Fight Becomes An All-Out Food War
The nation’s school cafeteria food fight escalated Wednesday as lobbying groups, the Secretary of Agriculture and even a group of retired generals weighed in on whether the new federal school lunch program is working effectively -- or needs to be put on hold. The House Appropriations Committee is expected to vote Thursday on legislation that would grant waivers to school districts that report they are having financial problems as they comply with the dietary requirements of the Healthy Hunger-free Kids Act, which passed in 2010. First Lady Michelle Obama came out swinging against the waiver idea on Tuesday (Hamburger, 5/28).

The Hill: Vilsack Says Senate School Lunch Compromise Is Acceptable
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Wednesday the Agriculture Department could accept compromise Senate language on school lunch standards, even as it vehemently opposes a House spending bill provision that would grant waivers to struggling schools. “We would obviously work with that,” Vilsack said of the Senate compromise, adding that he views it as “consistent” with the USDA efforts to help schools cope with new tougher standards. The Senate compromise emerged last week. It opens up the possibility of delaying or voiding sodium standards set for 2017, expands flexibility on whole wheat requirements and requires the USDA to report to Congress on efforts to help schools having trouble enticing students to eat the healthier meals (Wasson, 5/28).

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