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States Suing USDA Over School Nutritional Standards - Carlos Gamino
News from Attorney Carlos Gamino

States Suing USDA Over School Nutritional Standards

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By Carlos Gamino

New York, California, Illinois, Minnesota, New Mexico, Vermont and the District of Columbia are suing the U.S. government for weakening the federal nutritional standards for school meals.

“Over a million children in New York — especially those in low-income communities and communities of color — depend on the meals served daily by their schools to be healthy, nutritious, and prepare them for learning,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James. And that’s just in New York – there are millions more from other states, as well.

The problem? Last year, the government gave school lunch administrators the option to serve more refined grains in school meals; those include things like white bread, biscuits and pastas. It also halts requirements to reduce the amount of salt allowed in each meal and allows schools to offer more milk flavors, which are typically packed with sugar and artificial coloring. These moves were designed to undo Obama-era standards that required more nutritious, less dangerous foods to be served.

“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,” wrote James.

The lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue argues that the changes were made without a public comment period, which is required by law. It also claims that the rollbacks go against nutrition requirements that Congress put in place.

Last year alone, 30 million children across the U.S. ate nearly 5 billion school lunches, and more than 14 million kids were given breakfast through national school breakfast programs.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest and Healthy School Food Maryland is also suing the administration.

 
“American children are fed too much sodium—raising their risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke,” said CSPI Vice President for Nutrition Margo Wootan. “Kids are also getting too much white refined flour and not enough whole grains. After working for over a decade to improve school nutrition and seeing the tremendous progress that schools are making, it’s heartbreaking to see the Trump administration reverse course. The Trump rollbacks are recklessly putting kids’ health in jeopardy.”

What Do You Think?

How do you feel about the school nutrition requirement rollbacks? Do you have kids in school who buy lunches? Are you concerned about how healthy their foods are? I’d love to hear your take on this, so please share your thoughts on my Facebook page or on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino