States Sue Trump Administration Over Rollback of School-Lunch Nutrition Standards (#GotBitcoin?)
As USDA seeks to ease Obama-era rules on whole-grain foods and sodium content, Democratic attorneys general challenge on administrative grounds. States Sue Trump Administration Over Rollback of School-Lunch Nutrition Standards (#GotBitcoin?)
Six states and the District of Columbia sued the Trump administration in federal court on Wednesday for attempting to ease school-lunch nutrition standards.
The suit is the first challenge against the administration’s efforts to undo Obama-era regulations, championed by former first lady Michelle Obama, that restrict the contents of school-provided meals in a bid to make them healthier.
In December, the Agriculture Department unveiled its final plans to loosen those standards, which mandated that carbohydrate-rich foods—like pizza, pasta or hamburger buns—be made with whole grains, and targeted an overall reduction in sodium content in elementary school lunches to 640 milligrams.
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. The maximum recommended daily sodium intake is about 1,900 milligrams for that age group, according to government dietary guidelines.
The suit in the Southern District of New York argues that the USDA’s scaling back of the old standards is illegal for several administrative reasons, including that it didn’t provide a scientific basis to justify its changes and that it didn’t adequately notify the public in advance what the administration is considering.
A USDA spokesman declined to comment on pending litigation. The department has in past statements said its changes follow years of feedback from schools and food-service experts, who have faced challenges meeting meal regulations; and from students, some of whom have complained that the meals aren’t appetizing.
“The Trump administration has undermined key health benefits for our children…with deliberate disregard for science, expert opinion, and the law,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement.
“By gutting the whole-grain standards and halting the progress in reducing sodium, the Trump administration risks stymying this great progress and denying 30 million students access to healthy nutritious meals,” Ms. James added at a news conference in New York.
New York was joined in the suit by six other Democratic attorneys general representing states including California, Illinois and New Mexico.
In addition, two liberal advocacy groups, The Center for Science in the Public Interest and Healthy School Food Maryland, filed a similar lawsuit in Federal District Court in Maryland.
The standards are significant because they impact so many students: About 30 million children in public schools are eligible for free and reduced-price lunches, and for many low-income students, the food they consume at school comprises much of their overall diets.
Childhood obesity has more than tripled since the 1970s, with one in five school-aged children being obese in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Both sets of rules also extend beyond the lunch line, dictating what kinds of foods and beverages can be served in vending machines on school campuses.
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