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Trump administration relaxes healthy standard for school meals

09 May 2017

As reported by CNN, the Trump administration also announced today that it would immediately disband the "Let Girls Learn" program, another Michelle Obama-led initiative that provided funding to teen girls in the developing world so they could obtain education. The rule was scheduled to go into effect later this week.

NPR reports that Perdue argued on Monday that these new standards - real vegetables, less junk food, whole grain requirements, sodium content and milk options - led to children simply not eating the lunches.

Yeah, Robin, this is coming from the new Agriculture Secretary, Sonny Perdue.

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Nutrition directors in Hall County and Gainesville school districts said a proclamation by newly appointed U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue slowing the pace of upcoming regulations created to make school meals more nutritious will help schools eventually be able to meet the requirements.

"While the health impact of reopening this rule is unknown at this point, it's clear [that] having American schoolchildren eat fewer whole grains is not heart-healthy", Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association, said in a statement.

Margo Wootan, Director of Nutrition Policy for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, described the USDA's announcement as "discouraging". It also rewarded schools that met the standards with additional funding, six cents per healthy lunch. The Association recognizes that providing schools practical flexibility has been supported by Senator Pat Roberts, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, and Congressmen Robert Aderholt, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies for the House Appropriations Committee.

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Efforts to reduce sodium intake began in 1969, yet the amount of sodium consumed by teens through food continues to rise in a country where 1 in 5 teen boys have higher than normal blood pressure. Then-First Lady Michelle Obama promoted them as part of her "Let's Move" campaign against childhood obesity.

The Trump Administration is easing some Obama-era regulations earlier this week on school lunches. Some schools have asked for changes to that policy, saying students often throw them away. "Schools have been moving in the right direction, so it makes no sense to freeze that progress in its tracks-and allow dangerously high levels of salt in school lunch".

Current standards, which were issued in 2014, mandate that sodium levels can not exceed 1,230 mg per meal. Schools are now scheduled to meet "target two" requirements. He says that students essentially aren't eating the food, they don't like it. Cafeterias and schools have complained about it. Meals can not be nutritious without being consumed, he told reporters after a meal of chicken nuggets and salad shared with fifth grade students, calling for a balance between sodium and whole grain content and "palatability".

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He said the department will work on long-term solutions to further tweak the rules.