April 21, 2019

States sue Trump admin over rollbacks on school lunch standards

06 April 2019, 09:06 | Silvia Roy

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A group of states led by NY is suing the Trump administration over changes it made to school lunch nutrition standards initially championed by Michelle Obama. School nutrition directors have argued that it's tough to implement changes that may turn kids' off, so they need more time to figure out how to lower sodium levels and boost whole grains.

The new standards require schools to serve whole grains in only half the items on their lunch menus, and maintain the overall sodium limit at 1,230 milligrams.

Established in 1946, the National School Lunch Program is a federally subsidized program that provides students with healthy, balanced meals in schools at low- or no-cost.

The Justice Department did not immediately comment. "The Trump Administration has undermined key health benefits for our children - standards for salt and whole grains in school meals - with deliberate disregard for science, expert opinion, and the law".

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The other plaintiffs are California, Illinois, Minnesota, New Mexico, Vermont and the District of Columbia.

Copyright 2019 United Press International, Inc. Last year, it served an estimated 30 million children.

Five states, plus the District of Columbia, filed a complaint in federal court on Wednesday against the Department of Agriculture and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.

As we've reported, previous year the Trump administration gave school lunch administrators more flexibility in serving up refined grains, including white breads, biscuits and white pastas.

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Perdue has said his agency was committed to nutritious meals in schools, but the changes acknowledged the "challenges" that schools face serving appetizing yet healthy meals, while ensuring that food would not be wasted.

In a 2012 rule, USDA required schools to reduce sodium in breakfasts and lunches starting in the 2014-15 school year, and scheduled two more reduction targets to be met in 2017 and 2022.

Excessive sodium intake has been linked to heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke, while relatively higher refined grain consumption has been linked to type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity. "The Trump rollbacks are recklessly putting kids' health in jeopardy".

The School Nutrition Association, which represents 58,000 school nutrition professionals, has pushed for and supports the changes made by the Trump administration's final rule on school meal 'flexibilities'. Both also alleged that USDA violated a congressional mandate that school nutrition standards be consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

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