Rolling Back Michelle Obama's Rules to 'Make School Meals Great Again'

Posted May 08, 2017

The USDA will diminish implementation of stricter sodium standards and will continue to allow exemptions on 100% whole grain compliance.

The Trump administration on Monday relaxed some rules aimed at making United States school lunches healthier, a move viewed by health advocates as a direct hit on former first lady Michelle Obama's signature issue.

The standards that Obama pushed as part of her "Let's Move" campaign have been good for the health of America's schoolchildren.

Health advocates who have championed the rules are concerned about the freeze in sodium levels, in particular. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced greater flexibility in nutrition requirements for school lunch programs during a visit to Catoctin Elementary School in Leesburg, Virginia. "We're offering more fruits and vegetables now than we ever have. That shouldn't be happening", said the group's CEO Patricia Montague, commending Perdue's new rule. The federal nutrition standards unveiled yesterday allow schools to serve fewer whole grains, 1% flavored milk can be used instead of non-fat.

In addition to girl's education in developing countries, Mrs. Obama also took supporting military families and seeking to curb childhood obesity in the USA during her tenure as America's first lady.

Changes to school meal guidelines will not come into effect until next year, after discussion by the state Board of Education and within individual counties.

"We would not lower standards for reading, writing and arithmetic just because students found them challenging subjects and we should not do it for school nutrition either", Howell Wechsler, the organization's chief executive, said in a statement.

Perdue cited a 2015 study by U.S. Government Accountability Office, which measured a dwindling participation rate among students country-wide in the National School Lunch Program.

The rollback would primarily affect the standards of whole grain requirements, milk, and sodium.

"We worked really hard the last two years to provide flexibility, but after unanimously passing a bipartisan bill out of Committee, our effort stalled", Roberts said in a statement. The school is compliant with the whole grain requirements, but no one is eating the grits.

"In addition to requests for practical flexibility under federal nutrition regulations, SNA has called for protecting school meal programs from block grant proposals and expanding USDA Foods to support the School Breakfast Program".

Sodium levels in US school lunches now must average less than 1,230 milligrams in elementary schools; 1,360 mg in middle schools; and 1,420 mg in high school.

In the future, Effler said she'd like to see further easings of the requirements, including an increase in the calorie cap, especially at the high school level. Some schools have asked for changes to that policy, saying students often throw them away.

The decision comes the same day that the Trump administration rolled back some nutrition standards for federally subsidized school meals.