NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Next year school districts can serve saltier cafeteria foods, fewer whole grain options and put a bit more fat in the milk.
That's because the USDA is making guidelines less restrictive.
“To some degree, it’s a step back because for Nacogdoches Independent School District we’ve already complied with the rules," said student nutrition director for Nacogdoches ISD, Robin Thacker.
Five years ago Thacker and other nutrition directors were told to follow a phased-in plan toward healthier foods for kids. Michelle Obama pushed it. Now under the Trump administration, the rules are relaxed in regards to sodium, flavored milk, and whole grains.
Nacogdoches ISD and 49 other East Texas schools are in a purchasing co-op. That could dictate whether or not districts lower health standards.
“When we meet with our co-op, all the districts of the co-op, we all have to agree on what we’re going to put on the bid to get the better price,” explained Thacker.
Supply is another factor. Manufacturers are scrambling to adjust recipes.
“School nutrition is a billion dollar industry, so all the people in the pie are trying to comply with the rules," said Thacker.
The goal is to prevent food wastage, something food service manager Denise Hayter hates to see.
“Think of the kids that doesn't have food at home."}
School is where many children receive their most nutritious meal. And their pallet can be trained to like healthier selections.
Samuel, a Raguet Elementary Student said, "I like to have the chocolate milk. And if they have grapefruit, I grab it."
Thacker is all about compromise but thinks it’s important to remember it’s all about the kids.
“We really need to be doing what’s healthier for our kids, regardless of what the politics say,” said Thacker.