DeLauro, McGovern, Pingree Condemn Trump Move to Rollback School Meals Nutrition Standards
WASHINGTON, DC (May 1, 2017) — U.S. Representatives Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Jim McGovern (MA-02), and Chellie Pingree (ME-01), senior House Democrats and leaders on nutrition policy, today condemned the move by the Trump Administration to rollback nutrition standards for school meals across the country. As one of his first acts as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Sonny Perdue announced that the USDA will continue exemptions related to whole grain requirements and will freeze sodium targets.
“Just days into his new job as Secretary of USDA, Secretary Perdue has decided to put special interests ahead of the health of America’s children. School meal nutrition standards were enacted, on a bipartisan basis, to bring school meals up to date with the latest nutrition science—ensuring that our children have healthy options on their plates,” said DeLauro. “However, the USDA and President Trump have now decided to roll back much of the progress we have made in the fight against rates of childhood obesity and malnutrition. This interim final rule by the USDA is a slippery slope that will completely undermine school breakfast and lunch programs and the USDA should immediately reverse course.”
“Every day school meals help ensure millions of kids get the healthy food they need to learn and succeed. 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,” said McGovern. “The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 helped us make historic progress in tackling child hunger and obesity. School meals are just as essential as textbooks when it comes to helping our kids succeed and for millions of kids, school is the only place they will get a nutritious meal. We should build on the progress we’ve made, not turn our backs on kids who rely on these meals. This isn't about flexibility, it’s about making kids less healthy. Just because President Trump thinks fast food is a balanced meal doesn’t mean we should lower our standards for our kids.”
“It’s disappointing that one of Secretary Perdue’s first actions as the head of USDA is to rollback school nutrition standards with this rule. For many low-income students, the meals they eat in school are all they will eat that day. Minimizing access to healthy food will have consequences for our nation as it grapples with a childhood obesity crisis,” said Pingree. “I recognize schools are faced with strict and limited budgets, so we should concentrate on providing support and technical assistance to schools rather than rolling back standards. I hope Secretary Perdue will refocus his priorities on policies that will improve access to nutritious food and withdraw this rule.”
Today’s announcement will allow schools during the 2017-2018 school year to be exempted from the 100 percent whole-grain requirement. For school years 2017-2018 through 2020, schools will not be required to meet Sodium Target 2 standards, and will be able to stay at Sodium Target 1. Additionally, USDA will begin a regulatory process to allow schools to serve 1 percent flavored milk.