Trump Administration Eases Michelle Obama's School Lunch Restrictions

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In a move to roll back former first lady Michelle Obama's healthy lunch initiative, the Trump administration unveiled a rule on Monday to eliminate some of the nutritional standards now set in place.

According to the USDA, schools have been facing increasing fiscal burdens as they try to adhere to existing food requirements, and they estimate that such requirements cost school districts and states $1.22 billion in Fiscal Year 2015.

The Trump administration will also loosen the milk requirements under which schools will be able to serve 1 percent flavored milk.

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.

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Part of former first lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" health and wellness campaign, the legislation brought tougher nutritional standards to schools during the latter half of the last administration. "Children who participate in the National School Lunch Program eat greater amounts of healthy foods, get more essential vitamins and minerals, drink fewer sugar-sweetened beverages and have an overall better-quality diet".

The new directive did not change the previous rules on fruits and vegetables in school meal standards.

Chocolate milk is coming back on the school lunch menu.

"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. In recent years, the SNA has gone public with internal spats over the school nutrition standards.

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"It is outrageous that President Trump and his administration are now pushing a policy that weakens the essential nutrition standards which have strengthened access to healthy food for so many students", McGovern said.

The group often battled with the Obama administration, which phased in the healthier school meal rules starting in 2012. One saw the changes as a step backward for a school meals program that's been a success.

Perdue said, "If kids aren't eating the food, and it's ending up in the trash, they aren't getting any nutrition - thus undermining the intent of the program".

For School Years 2017-2018 through 2020, schools will not be required to meet Sodium Target 2. The Department added it will take necessary regulatory actions to implement a long-term solution. Schools have always been required to follow government nutrition rules if they accept federal reimbursements for free and reduced-price meals for low-income students, but these standards were stricter. Without more flexibility, they warned, they'd keep throwing away whole grains, fruits and vegetables that kids refuse to eat. "These are not mandates on schools". "So we're actually squeezing out a hurting the people, in my opinion, or giving them less choices to those who do not have the money to just say 'I'll buy whatever lunch I want", DeFeo said. Howell Wechsler, CEO of Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a group that advocates for children's nutrition and is funded by the Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association, said the move ignores progress in improving school nutrition.

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