The U.S. Department of Agriculture has proposed to undo Michelle Obama’s legacy by easing up on stricter nutritional standards for school breakfasts and lunches—and adding insult to injury by making the announcement on her birthday.
MSN reports that the USDA has presented new tentative rules for the Food and Nutrition Service that would permit schools to slash the amount of vegetables and fruits for school meal requirements while selling more fries, pizza, and burgers. The agency administers nutritional programs that feed almost 30 million students at 99,000 schools.
According to the USDA, the changes will be the answer to unforeseen issues that happened as a result of Obama’s regulations. However, Colin Schwartz, deputy director of legislative affairs for Center for Science in the Public Interest, told MSN that the USDA’s proposed rules could “create a huge loophole in school nutrition guidelines, paving the way for children to choose pizza, burgers, french fries and other foods high in calories, saturated fat or sodium in place of balanced school meals every day.”
The new rules will allow schools to cut daily servings of fruit with breakfast from one cup to a half cup. For lunch, the USDA’s rules permit schools to offer potatoes as a vegetable every day and with more flexibility to serve pizza and burgers. Kids get more than half of their daily calories from school meals, and about two-thirds of the 30 million children who eat daily school meals are classified as low-income and receive free or reduced-price meals.
The new rules almost nullify the positive news from a USDA report published last year that was the first comprehensive assessment of school meals after the implementation of Michelle Obama’s Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.
“The Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 has been called one of the most important obesity-prevention policy achievements in recent decades,” Schwartz told MSN. “Yet the Trump administration seems intent on sabotaging it. While there’s plenty of room to strengthen school nutrition further, these proposals taken together instead are basically aiming a flamethrower at it.”