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Peanut butter, garlic bread back on school plates

By Elizabeth Cohen, Senior Medical Correspondent
updated 5:04 PM EST, Wed December 12, 2012
Modifications to federal rules regarding healthy school lunches mean some students' favorite items have returned.
Modifications to federal rules regarding healthy school lunches mean some students' favorite items have returned.
  • Students complained federal school lunch rules removed their favorites
  • The Obama administration has reversed some of the new lunch rules
  • "Children cried" over the loss of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, one director says

Editor's note: The Empowered Patient is a regular feature from CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen that helps put you in the driver's seat when it comes to health care.

(CNN) -- In a battle over healthier school lunches that pitted the Obama administration against school children, chalk up a point for the kids.

Students have been complaining that some of their favorite foods were taken off the plate because of the Obama administration's efforts to make school lunches healthier.

High school students in Kansas made a video called "We Are Hungry," complete with feigned fainting that's been viewed more than a million times on YouTube.

Last week, the administration reversed some of the new school lunch rules, and the kids are happy again, says Dave Porter, superintendent of Wallace County, Kansas, schools.

Elizabeth Cohen
Elizabeth Cohen

"Even though we're a small town in rural western Kansas, Washington did hear us," he said. "Our concerns were listened to."

Under the original rules, which went into effect at the beginning of the school year, schools couldn't serve spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread because it includes too many grains. A grilled chicken sandwich with a side order of celery sticks and a bit of peanut butter for dipping was also forbidden because it made for too many servings of protein.

Pictures inspire a school lunch boycott
Students sing complaint to Mrs. Obama

Now, garlic bread and peanut butter are back on the plate.

"These changes are wonderful. They give us back flexibility," said Sandra Ford, president of the national School Nutrition Association.

Do you agree with the changes?

Some of the original changes just didn't make sense, Ford said. For example, she had to stop serving her own students peanut butter and jelly sandwiches some days because the bread put her over the federal government's grain limit.

"Children cried," said Ford, director of food and nutrition services at Manatee County, Florida, schools. "For some of them peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are all they would eat."

Video: 'No fat kids at school?'

Schools still have to follow calorie limits and fruit and vegetable requirements that were part of the healthier school lunch changes.

The secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers the school lunch program, said it anticipated some modifications would need to be made in the school lunch rules.

"USDA has asked for, and states and schools have provided us with, valuable feedback," Secretary Thomas Vilsack wrote in a letter last week to Sen. John Hoeven, R-North Dakota, who had expressed concern about the changes.

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