States sue Trump admin over changes to school lunch standards

A group of six states and Washington, D.C., on Wednesday sued the Trump administration for rolling back Obama-era school lunch nutrition standards.

The lawsuit, directed toward Agriculture Secretary Sonny PerdueGeorge (Sonny) Ervin PerdueUSDA relocates expert economists, researchers who challenge Trump policies: report Gov. Kemp vetoed school recess bill in Georgia — it's irresponsible and neglects children's needs On The Money: Judge upholds House subpoena for Trump financial records | Trump vows to appeal ruling by 'Obama-appointed judge' | Canada, Mexico lift retaliatory tariffs on US | IRS audit rate falls MORE, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, is in response to a 2018 USDA rule that rolled back nutrition standards set in 2012 that gradually implemented sodium restrictions and increased the amount of whole grains in the school meals.

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The nutrition standards were a major focus for former first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaMichelle Obama to headline Essence Festival Obama shares tribute to Michelle to celebrate Mother's Day 111-year-old woman gets free tickets to see Michelle Obama book tour MORE, who had championed healthier school lunches.

The lawsuit alleges that USDA violated federal law by not allowing for public comment ahead of the rule change, and that the change was "arbitrary [and] capricious."

The states and D.C. say in the complaint that they are suing “to protect the health of the schoolchildren in their States by ensuring that nutritional standards for school meals are not changed without an opportunity to comment on the changes and that, as required by Congress, the standards are based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences, and scientific research regarding children’s nutrition.”

A spokesperson for USDA declined to comment, citing a policy on not addressing ongoing litigation.

“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,” New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is leading the lawsuit, said in a statement.

“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. My office will use every tool at our disposal to fight back against these shameful rollbacks and ensure our children our protected.”