The Trump administration announced Thursday it would scale back school lunch standards to allow refined grains and low-fat chocolate milk.
The Department of Agriculture released a statement outlining the final rule on nutritional changes to be released later this month. Only half of grains sold will have to be whole grain, flavored low-fat milk will be available and schools will have more time to meet sodium requirements.
"USDA is committed to serving meals to kids that are both nutritious and satisfying,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny PerdueSonny PerdueThe hero of Jan. 6 whose name must not be spoken With soaring demand for meat, it's time to fund animal-free protein research Perdue on possible run for Georgia governor: 'I'm concerned about the state of our state' MORE said of the changes. “These common-sense flexibilities provide excellent customer service to our local school nutrition professionals, while giving children the world-class food service they deserve.”
In their statement, USDA says that the standards set during the Obama administration were causing problems for schools.
“If kids are not eating what is being served, they are not benefiting, and food is being wasted,” said Perdue. “We all have the same goals in mind -- the health and development of our young people. USDA trusts our local operators to serve healthy meals that meet local preferences and build bright futures with good nutrition.”
The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a think tank focused on health, blasted the decision, saying that it is an example of "putting politics before children’s health."
The rule "locks in dangerously high levels of salt and brings back more refined white flour to school meals," Vice President for Nutrition Margo Wootan wrote.
"Nine out of ten children consume too much sodium which can raise blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and hypertension in adulthood. In fact, one in six children already have high blood pressure. Schools were on track to gradually rein in high sodium levels over ten years."