These Are the Most Shocking Foods the Government Banned From Public Schools

In 2010, fueled by former first lady Michelle Obama, the federal government changed its rules regarding school lunches pretty significantly. In an effort to provide kids with healthier, more nutritious meals, Congress passed laws about what the lunches can — and can’t — contain. Find out the No. 1 food that’s now banned from school lunches on page 5, then discover the latest changes regarding school lunches on page 7.

1. The feds decided to monitor food in schools

Pupils In School Cafeteria Being Served Lunch By Dinner Ladies

They put limits on everything schools sell. | Highwaystarz-Photography/iStock/Getty Images

According to The Christian Science Monitor, the United States Department of Agriculture laid down the law about school lunches in 2010. It announced, through the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, that for the first time it monitor all foods sold in the nation’s 100,000 schools to ensure they are healthier.

The USDA expanded the limits on fat, calorie, sugar, and sodium in almost everything schools sell during the day. Lower fat, calorie, sugar, and sodium contents lead to healthier food, and the federal government wants to ensure American children are receiving proper nutrition.

Next: Ba-bye, junk food.

2. The feds implement Smart Snacks

Lunch box with vegetables and slice of bread for a healthy school lunch on wooden table

No more junk food. | arto_canon/iStock/Getty Images

In 2013, according to The Christian Science Monitor, a federal program called Smart Snacks in Schools called for schools to toss vending machine junk foods. Kids might have missed their vending machine junk food at first, but maybe not for long. The program began replacing junk foods with much healthier items during the 2014-2015 school year.

Next: So many rules

3. The rules extend past the school lunch line

Gluten and nut free items at a bake sale

The rules also applied to bake sales. | Akchamczuk/iStock/Getty Images

The rules about lower counts of fat, calories, sugar, and sodium in school lunch food don’t just apply to the regular lunch line. They extend to snacks that the school sells and foods in the cafeterias’ “a la carte” lines, which have never have been regulated before. The rules, according to The Christian Science Monitor, also gave states the right to regulate student bake sales.

Next: The reason behind the changes

4. This is why the feds changed the rules

Obese child with hamburger and fries

Childhood obesity is rampant. | Constantinis/iStock/Getty Images

You might be wondering why the feds changed the rules. Congress passed the child nutrition law in 2010, and it was designed to combat childhood obesity, according to The Christian Science Monitor. And, according to The Annie E. Casey Foundation — an organization dedicated to children at-risk children — from 2015 to 2016, 31% of kids from 10 to 17 were categorized as overweight or obese.

Next: The no-no list

5. The No. 1 thing that’s banned from schools

Sports drinks are just as sugary. | Alexandra Wyman/Getty Images for vitaminwater

One really significant change to school food rules included a near-ban on high-calorie sports drinks, according to The Christian Science Monitor. When schools pulled high-calorie sodas out of their vending machines, a lot of beverage simply replaced them with sports drinks. Today, high schools can sell only sports drinks that contain 60 calories or less in a 12-ounce serving.

Next: How successful is the program?

6. Are the rules really working?

Person Throwing Cooked Pasta In Trash Bin

Students aren’t getting food at school anymore. | AndreyPopov/iStock/Getty Images

According to the Miami Herald, the rules regarding school lunches pretty much failed. Ever since the federal government required schools to serve healthier, there has been a significant drop in the number of students getting their lunch at the cafeteria. Just a year after the federal government introduced the program, the USDA reported that the number of children getting lunch at school had declined by approximately 1.2 million.

Next: New rules

7. In 2017, the USDA made some changes to its rules

Students were complaining about the food being offered. | Sean Gallup/Getty Images

According to Beef Magazine, in 2017, the USDA made some new rule changes to school lunch standards. Students were tweeting about Michelle Obama’s revisions to the school lunch program, saying the meals were sad and unfulfilling. The USDA responded with the new School Meal Flexibility Rule, which will enable schools to provide healthful meals that kids will actually eat.

“Schools want to offer food that students actually want to eat. It doesn’t do any good to serve nutritious meals if they wind up in the trashcan. These flexibilities give schools the local control they need to provide nutritious meals that school children find appetizing,” said USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue.

Next: Different schools, different rules

8. Elementary and middle schools have different rules

Row of water bottles

They have to stick to very specific guidelines. | Tezzstock/iStock/Getty Images

Elementary and middle schools have different rules, according to The Christian Science. They cannot sell sodas or sports drinks at all. In fact, there are only a few beverages elementary schools can provide for kids: water, 100% fruit or vegetable juice, carbonated water, and low- and fat-free milk, including nonfat flavored milks.

Next: The rules do more than just ban foods

9. Rules designed to increase healthy food choices

school lunch box for kids

They were encouraged to sell healthy foods. | nata_vkusidey/iStock/Getty Images

The rules did more than cut down on unhealthy foods schools could sell, according to The Christian Science Monitor. They were also designed to increase the number of healthier foods schools sell. The standards encourage schools to provide more low-fat dairy, fruits, whole grains, vegetables, and lean proteins.

“It’s not enough for it to be low in problem nutrients, it also has to provide positive nutritional benefits,” said Margo Wootan, a nutrition lobbyist for the Center for Science in the Public. “There has to be some food in the food.”

Next: More money went to schools for food

10. More lunch money for the underserved

Girl holding food tray in school cafeteria

They want to make lunch more accessible to those who can’t afford it. | XiXinXing/iStock/Getty Images

The rules were designed to make school foods more healthful — and more accessible. Thankfully, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act also provided more money for schools to provide reduced-cost and free meals for underserved kids. According to the Alliance For a Healthier Generation, when children eat nutritious meals, their attendance, focus, performance, and scores improve.

Next: What the program’s critics say

11. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act isn’t popular with everyone

American school lunch

Some don’t believe the government have a right to tell kids how to eat. | Tim Boyle/Getty Images

The feds’ rules regarding making lunch choices more nutritious drew criticism, according to The Christian Science Monitor. Conservatives, including some Republicans in Congress, felt the government shouldn’t have the right to tell kids what to eat. Because of the backlash, the Agriculture Department changed one of the most controversial parts of the program. It left the regulation of in-school fundraisers — such as bake sales — up to the individual states.

Next: Junk food allowed here

12. What the guidelines don’t apply to

Plastic Gloved Hand Preparing Concession Nachos Tortilla Chips Snack Food

Concession stands are exempt. | vsanderson/iStock/Getty Images

Sure, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act enables schools to keep junk food out of the cafeteria and vending machines, but that’s about as far as it goes, according to The Christian Science Monitor. The guidelines also would not apply to after-school concessions at events such as school games, concerts, or theater performances, treats that kids bring from home to celebrate birthdays in the classroom, or anything that kids bring to school for their personal consumption.

Next: Rules were made to be broken?

13. The USDA wants to work with schools

Group Of Pupils Sitting At Table In School Cafeteria Eating Lunch

They’re working together to find options that are healthy and delicious. | Highwaystarz-Photography/iStock/Getty Images

According to The Christian Science Monitor, the USDA wants to work with schools that find it difficult to fulfill the requirements. And the organization also wants to help resolve any complaints about the rules. For example, soon after the law passed, school nutritionists complained that it wasn’t working regarding meats and grains. In response, the USDA relaxed some limits on those food items. For the most part, however, the food industry has supported the USDA’s law.

Next: No advertising

14. The rules also phased out advertising junk food

Pepsi, Coca Cola And Fanta

There can’t be marketing for soft drinks in the school. | Radu Bercan/iStock/Getty Images

The new rules not only set guidelines for school lunch foods, it phased out advertising sugary drinks and junk foods from vending machines around campuses, according to NBC News. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the new rules would eliminate marketing for products that cannot be sold in schools. “If you can’t sell it, you ought not to be able to market it,” said Vilsack. He added that companies spend approximately $149 million a year marketing food and drinks to school kids.

Next: The precursor to Michelle Obama’s program

16. Bill Clinton started it all

Bill Clinton started the trend in 2006. | Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images

The rules for children’s school lunches didn’t come about in 2010. Back in 2006, according to NBC News, former president Bill Clinton’s foundation started the trend toward healthier food in schools. The foundation worked with beverage companies to limit school drink sales in elementary and middle schools to water, unsweetened juice and low- and nonfat milk, and it added of diet and sports drinks to the list of acceptable beverages for high schools.

Read more here: Donald Trump Wants to Change How You Pay for School

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