Trump administration argues states have no say in healthy school lunch requirements rollback

The Trump administration told a federal judge Monday that states have no power to sue the federal government regarding new rules they say make school meals less healthy, Reuters reported.

The government said in a late-night filing in the U.S. Court for the Southern District of New York that six states and Washington, D.C., cannot sue based on speculation that changes to the federally funded National School Lunch Program could cause health problems

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“This rule recognizes that a state has no legal interest in protecting its citizens from the federal government, and that only the United States, not the states, may represent its citizens and ensure their protection under federal law in federal matters,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in the filing, according to Reuters.

The five states — New York, California, Illinois, Minnesota, New Mexico and Vermont — and D.C. sued Agriculture Secretary Sonny PerdueGeorge (Sonny) Ervin PerduePlan to lift roadless rule in Alaska's Tongass national forest threatens economy House Democrat asks USDA to halt payouts to Brazilian meatpacker under federal probe From state agriculture departments to Congress: Our farmers need the USMCA MORE in April over a 2018 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.

The plaintiffs alleged that the change to the public school lunch program, which feeds more than 30 million students, violated federal law because the Agriculture Department did not allow for public comment and that the change was "arbitrary [and] capricious."

Among the changes in the rule were halving the required amounts of whole grains to be served and delaying or shelving targets for sodium intake.

Berman in the filing called the new rules only “minimum requirements,” and said states remained free to enact stricter requirements.