Thursday, 25 April, 2019

States sue Trump administration over school lunch rules

U.S. states sue to undo Trump rollback of healthy school lunch rules States sue Trump administration over school lunches
Celia Hoffman | 06 April, 2019, 21:06

IL is among six states suing the U.S. Department of Agriculture over claims officials weakened nutritional standards for school lunches.

The lawsuit asks the court to overturn changes in standards regarding sodium and whole grains.

Several U.S. states sued the Trump administration on Wednesday to undo its recent decision that allowed fewer whole grains and more sodium in school breakfasts and lunches.

The National School Lunch Program is a federally assisted program that provides students with healthy meals at little to no cost in schools, according to USDA's Food and Nutrition Service.

In 2012, the Obama administration toughened standards on nutrition that schools had been required to follow in order to receive federal reimbursement for free and reduced-price meals for low-income students.

Spokespeople for the Department of Agriculture did not immediately respond to requests for 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".

Joining James in the lawsuit are the attorneys general of California, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Minnesota, New Mexico and Vermont.

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The department has said 20% of schools previous year applied for exemptions to the whole-grain rule, most frequently so they could serve pasta, tortillas, biscuits and grits.

When the rollbacks were initially announced in 2017, Perdue said the move was not meant to diminish nutritional standards.

Some of the changes finalized by the Trump administration past year included allowing schools to offer additional milk flavors and curbing Obama-era regulations on sodium limits.

"American children are fed too much sodium-raising their risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke", CSPI Vice President for Nutrition Margo Wootan said in a statement. "The Trump rollbacks are recklessly putting kids' health in jeopardy".

Both lawsuits center around a new rule issued by the Trump administration's U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) which slashed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act's (HHFKA) whole-grain-rich standard, meaning that now only half of the grain-based foods served in school meals have to be whole-grain-rich.

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'.

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