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USDA to ease school meal standards

USDA to ease school meal standards
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Newly minted Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is expected to unveil a new rule Monday aimed at giving schools more flexibility in meeting federal nutrition standards for school lunches.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced Friday that Perdue and Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsSenate GOP faces retirement brain drain Roy Blunt won't run for Senate seat in 2022 Lobbying world MORE (R-Kan.) will make the announcement at the Catoctin Elementary School in Leesburg, Va., where they are expected to eat lunch with the students.

Republicans have long been trying to dial back the standards that became a pillar of former first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaMinneapolis mayor on Floyd: 'Ultimately his life will have bettered our city' Obamas praise Floyd jury, urge more action: 'We cannot rest' Bush says he doesn't criticize other presidents to avoid risking friendship with Michelle Obama MORE’s initiative to curb childhood obesity in the U.S.

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Roberts introduced legislation with Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowHouse Dems to unveil drug pricing measure ahead of Biden package Overnight Energy: Biden reportedly will pledge to halve US emissions by 2030 | Ocasio-Cortez, Markey reintroduce Green New Deal resolution Serious about climate change? Get serious about agriculture MORE (D-Mich.) last year to give schools two more years to meet new reductions on sodium, but the bill never passed.

Renewed efforts to ease the federal standards came as disappointing news to some advocates.

The American Heart Association was quick to push back. In a statement, the group’s CEO, Nancy Brown, said the current standards are already working and that 99 percent of schools are in compliance.

“Improving children’s health should be a top priority for the USDA, and serving more nutritious foods in schools is a clear-cut way to accomplish this goal,” she said.

“Rather than altering the current path forward, we hope the agency focuses more on providing technical assistance that can help schools get across the finish line, if they haven’t done so already.”