In an effort to supply healthier choices to students, pasta and all other grain products in schools will have to contain more than half whole-grain ingredients. Everything from rolls to pizza crusts, tortillas to even grits will need to meet the requirements implemented by next year.

The whole-grain requirement is part of an effort to make school’s breakfast and lunch options healthier. First lady Michelle Obama’s "Let’s Move!" campaign is the government task force dedicated to combating childhood obesity within a generation. The key benchmark goal is to reduce the childhood obesity rate down to five percent by 2030.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children in the past 30 years, and now more than a third of the nation’s children are overweight or obese. In 2012, nearly 18 percent of children ages 6 to 11 years old were obese, and an additional 21 percent of adolescents ages 12 to 19 years old were classified as obese.  

“Tremendous gains” have been made in the quality of school foods, said senior policy adviser for nutrition at the White House, Sam Kass. He finds efforts to undermine child health policies to be disappointing.

Alabama Rep. Robert Aderholt, the Republican House chairman of the spending committee who oversees the USDA, believes school districts need to stop implementing the regulations and wait until the problems are sorted out. Many republicans have complained of an overreaching government and may intervene their healthier-lunch efforts. According to the CDC, Alabama is the fifth most obese state in the United States.

“First and foremost, the key is not going back,” Kass told the Associated Press.  

Even though there is a childhood obesity problem, it doesn’t necessarily have to do with an overabundance of food, but instead a disproportionate type of food. Children are eating inexpensive, highly processed foods that lack the nutritional benefits their growing minds and bodies need, according to a USDA report. According to estimates, 16.7 million children live in households that experience hunger multiple times throughout the year.

Not only are children frequently going hungry at home, but they are also not eating the recommended levels of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products, according to the 2009 Institute of Medicine report.

 For children whose families can’t afford a school lunch, the United States Department of Agriculture’s National School Lunch Program, supplies free and reduced-price lunches to children who qualify. This is one of the reasons the "Let’s Move!" campaign is working to supply children with nutritionally sustaining foods while they can at school. Policies implemented now are especially because the likelihood of obese children growing into obese adults is very high, which is why the trend needs to be slowed and children need to be taught the value of a balanced meal.

"You can't call a meal a meal without a fruit or vegetable," Margo Wootan, the director of nutrition for the Center for Science in the Public Interest who has pushed for healthier meals and emphasizes the importance of strong standards for the program’s success, reported the Associated Press.

Despite the indisputable need to supply children with healthy meals, there has been push back to the whole-grain policy and other school lunch requirements. The School Nutrition Association has asked Congress and the USDA to ease up on some of the policies, specifically that they only require 50 percent of foods to be rich in whole grains, remove the 2017 sodium requirements, and to stop making students take a fruit or vegetable.

"The regulations are so prescriptive, so it's difficult to manage not only the nutrition side of your businesses but the business side of your business," says school nutrition director Becky Domokos-Bays of Virginia’s Alexandria City Public School System said.

Currently, 27.4 percent of the state of Virginia’s adult population is obese, and 34.2 percent of those between the ages 45 to 64 are seven percent higher than the national average, according to the Council on Virginia’s Future.

Domokos-Bays will continue to serve refined bleach-white pasta to students until she is forced to make the changes this summer. According to nutritionist and nutrition expert of the Today show Joy Bauer, standard white pastas are stripped of much of their fibers, vitamins, and minerals.

Diet deficiencies of certain vitamins and minerals have been documented in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to Harvard Medical School health publications. Although researchers don’t believe diet is the sole culprit of ADHD, dietary interventions and other behavioral therapies that increase healthy foods in diets have been known to curb contributing symptoms.

The new school lunch restrictions aren’t implemented with taking children’s input into consideration. In 2012, the USDA changed the protein and grain limits after students complained they were hungry.

Many kids have made a seamless adaptation to the new whole grain rolls, bread, and pizza crusts, but some schools are having problems with the consistency of whole grain pastas. Former school nutrition director and the USDA’s current Deputy Under Secretary Janey Thornton, says the government is working with food industries to develop better pastas. Thornton told the Associated Press, "I'll bet that five or seven years down the road, we'll see kids eating healthy food and we'll see acceptance."