Goehring calls for revisions in school lunch guidelines

BISMARCK – Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring says new federal guidelines for school lunches do not address the nutritional needs of many children and should be revised especially in regard to restrictions on meat protein.

“The guidelines are currently based on a “one-size-fits-all” formula without consideration of individual needs, especially those of physically active and growing students,” Goehring said. “The guidelines deprive these students of sufficient calories and protein for healthy growth and mental alertness.”

Goehring, who leaves Wednesday, for the annual meeting of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) in Des Moines, IA, said he will introduce a resolution for NASDA, urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to reassess and revise the new dietary guidelines implemented through the National School Lunch and Breakfast program.

“I believe my counterparts from other states will be supportive,” Goehring said. “This issue has raised concern in other states besides North Dakota.”

Goehring said he believes the new guidelines are well-intentioned, but fall short of providing a comprehensive policy for educating students in healthy living. He also said the health care profession should be part of the dialogue because of its knowledge of child growth and development.

“Overly restrictive guidelines in the school lunch program will not solve the serious, national problem of childhood obesity,” Goehring said. “What is needed is a more comprehensive approach, including dietary education and increased physical activity, to help students adopt a healthier lifestyle.”

Goehring said he is especially concerned about children who are receiving subsidized meals.

“Unlike children whose parents have the means to supply them with additional nutrition, especially protein, the children getting subsidized meals have no such resources,” he said. “For many of them, school breakfasts and lunches may be the most nutritious meals they get that day, and now it is suggested we reduce essential elements from their diet.”

Goehring said the NASDA members will consider of number of major topics during the six-day meeting, including border security and legal workforce reform, concentrated animal feeding operations, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System and EPA Compliance to Congressional Intent of the Clean Water Act,

The NASDA meeting concludes Monday.