USDA Changes Food Restrictions in Schools

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STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) -- A rule change by the USDA could put more food on your child's plate at school.

Fewer attendance problems, fewer nurse visits, increased test scores and increased attention are just some of the benefits of being full, according to Susan Ellinger, the nutrition supervisor for Staunton Schools.

"When those basic needs are satisfied then other things tend to fall into place and you have fewer issues as well," said Ellinger, as she is glad to see old USDA regulations gone.

The regulations restricted how much meat and grains schools could serve to student, leaving some kids with an empty stomach.

"It's hard to think straight when you're really hungry. The same with our student-athletes, it's hard for them to perform to their full potential if they're not being fed well during the day," said Ellinger.

The rules now allow for larger portions of lean meat and whole grains for each child.

Ellinger said before it was hard even to write the menu.

She is now glad for the flexibility, but also glad for another reason.

"We have a fairly high percentage of students who qualify for free and reduced-price meals, so we know this is where they're getting at least two of their three meals out of the day. So it's important to us that those two meals be the best we can make them for those students," said Ellinger.

The USDA said the restrictions were originally intended to fight obesity, but it made the decision to get rid of them after parents and administrators complained.