Trump Administration to Roll Back Michelle Obama’s School Lunch Guidelines on Vegetables and Fruits

The Trump administration moved on Friday to roll back school nutrition standards championed by Michelle Obama, an effort long sought by food manufacturers and some school districts that have chafed at the cost of Mrs. Obama’s prescriptions for fresh fruit and vegetables.

The proposed rule by the Agriculture Department, coming on Mrs. Obama’s birthday, would give schools more flexibility in how much fruit is offered during breakfast and in the types of vegetables offered in meals. It would also broaden what counts as a snack.

The rule was applauded by food companies but condemned by nutritionists who predicted a comeback for starchy foods like potatoes and the return of daily hamburgers.

“Schools and school districts continue to tell us that there is still too much food waste and that more common-sense flexibility is needed to provide students nutritious and appetizing meals,” Sonny Perdue, the agriculture secretary, said in a statement. “We listened and now we’re getting to work.”

The Agriculture Department said the changes reflected requests made over the past two years by those who serve meals to children and teenagers throughout the school year. The department plans to release a regulatory analysis and open the public comment period on Jan. 21.

The proposal is the department’s second attempt to roll back nutrition standards promoted by Mrs. Obama through the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which required schools to serve children fruits and vegetables every day and to offer more whole-grain foods and fat-free or low-fat milk. It also required school meal providers to limit calories and reduce saturated fat, trans fat and sodium.

The department finalized a rule in December 2018 that gave school meal providers permission to serve flavored low-fat milk in the national school lunch program and school breakfast program. That rule stipulated that only half of the weekly grains must be whole grain, and it gave providers more time to reduce sodium in meals.

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SOURCE: The New York Times, Lola Fadulu