Trump relaxes USA salt reduction targets for school meals

Cheryl Sanders
May 3, 2017

A five-year effort trying to help America's schoolchildren eat healthier meals will come to an abrupt end, as the Trump administration seeks to make America fat again by rolling back parts of healthy school lunch programs championed by Michelle Obama under the guise of local control.

Newly minted Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue unveiled a new interim rule on Monday to suspend sodium reduction requirements and whole-grain requirements as well as allow 1 percent fat flavored milk back into school cafeterias nationwide. Perdue made the announcement during a visit to Catoctin Elementary School in Leesburg, Va., to mark School Nutrition Employee Week. Mr.

The Agriculture Department said in a statement the change would give American schools "greater flexibility" and stop kids from throwing out the less appetizing food mandated under the scheme. Under the new rules, some schools will be able to serve kids fewer whole grains, and an upcoming requirement to lower sodium levels in meals will be delayed. Thanks to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, the 30 million kids dependent on the free and low-priced meals provided by the program now getmore fruits, vegetables, and whole grains instead of the bland fish stick tacos and mystery meat they had come to expect.

Health experts say US children do not exercise enough and that one in six are overweight.

Schools will have more flexibility starting this fall for the 2017-2018 school year.


Perdue, who became head of the agency last week, announced he would be relaxing guidelines and providing greater flexibility in nutrition requirements for schools' meal programs.

The time frame will provide schools and the school nutrition industry with the certainty and predictability they need to make appropriate plans for creating foods with the appropriate amount of sodium.

"While Los Angeles Unified School District previously led the way in chartering healthful entrées for students, they, too, have slipped backwards - serving cheese tamales, BBQ pork and savory Salisbury steak with gravy for standard lunch options", he said.

The Trump administration wants to keep the salt, fat, and sugar in kids' lunches. Michelle Obama pushed the changes as part of her "Let's Move" campaign to combat childhood obesity.

"Just because children would rather eat heavily salted, processed foods at school doesn't mean they should", Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, said in a statement.


The school meal changes reflect suggestions from the School Nutrition Association, which represents school nutrition directors and companies that sell food to schools. Schools are now scheduled to meet "target two" requirements.

When it comes to loosening standards that regulate salt, which "has no nutrition benefit and can contribute to unhealthy diet as a whole", and those regulating grains, Altmann is a little less "fine".

"The USDA and President Trump have now chose to roll back much of the progress we have made in the fight against rates of childhood obesity and malnutrition", DeLauro said.

The former standards also required all grains, including croutons and the breading on chicken patties, to be whole grain rich in US schools. So while health advocates (rightly, to my mind) believe the 100 percent whole-grain-rich standard should be enforced across the board, Perdue's announcement didn't change the status quo.


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