WASHINGTON – The US Department of Agriculture is making permanent rules that allow schools the flexibility to increase portion sizes of lean meats and whole grains.

Earlier rules placed strict limits on portion sizes of meals served as part of the National School Lunch Program. The limits were aimed at combating childhood obesity and helping students manage their weight. But dietitians and parents pushed back against the rules saying children were getting enough to eat. In response, USDA temporarily eliminated limits on portion sizes for lean meats and whole grains. Now, the change is permanent.

"Earlier this school year, USDA made a commitment to school-nutrition professionals that we would make the meat and grain flexibility permanent and provide needed stability for long-term planning,” said Agriculture Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon. “We have delivered on that promise."