May 1 The Trump administration on Monday relaxed
some rules aimed at making U.S. school lunches healthier, a move
viewed by health advocates as a direct hit on former first lady
Michelle Obama's signature issue.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, in one of his first
acts after his Senate confirmation last week, signed a
proclamation that postpones sodium reductions, makes it easier
to serve foods without whole grains, and allows the return of
chocolate- and strawberry-flavored milk with fat.
"Certain aspects of the standards have gone too far," said
Perdue, speaking at an elementary school in Virginia.
The change comes as Donald Trump, one of the more
fast-food-friendly presidents in recent years, has vowed to
The 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act was championed by
Michelle Obama and became a rallying cry for her critics after
it set school lunch maximums for calories, cut sodium and
artery-clogging trans fat, and required more fruits, vegetables
and whole grains.
The federally funded U.S. school lunch program, started by
President Harry Truman in the 1940s, is overseen by the U.S.
Department of Agriculture and feeds more than 30 million, mostly
Healthy lunch proponents expressed the most concern about
relaxing efforts to reduce excessive dietary sodium, which is
linked to high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.
"This will lock in very high levels of sodium in school
lunches," said Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy for
Center for Science in the Public Interest.
The sodium limit for a high school lunch is now about 1,400
milligrams, or three-fourths of the recommended daily maximum,
Perdue's proclamation delays plans to reduce that to 1,080
milligrams this school year. The ultimate target is about 740
milligrams in the 2022 school year, Wootan said.
"Federal nutrition programs should provide nutritious food -
that's just good government, not nanny state policies run amok,"
said Wootan, who added that many schools have adopted the
standards and worked through early problems with ingredient
availability and taste.
The School Nutrition Association, which represents both the
industry that sells food to schools and cafeteria workers, has
lobbied to weaken the rules, particularly with regard to sodium.
Many large food companies are suppliers to the U.S. school
lunch program, including Tyson Foods Inc, Cargill Inc
and General Mills Inc. Domino's Pizza Inc
delivers to schools as part of its "Smart Slice"
(Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Editing by Leslie