In another display of how grossly misplaced Republican priorities are, the Trump administration is moving to repeal the school lunch nutrition guidelines that former First Lady Michelle Obama established in her crusade against childhood obesity. The guidelines were among the First Lady’s most important policy victories.
The USDA and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) will be announcing a new rule on Monday to give schools more “flexibility” in meeting federal nutrition standards, loosening the restrictions passed during the last administration and allowing the government to trim funds from the program.
The American Heart Association quickly condemned the move. CEO Nancy Brown argued that the new standards are already showing results and have been applied in 99% of American schools:
“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. 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.”
Michelle Obama and Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which was the first significant change to the school lunch program in over thirty years. The act mandated nutrition standards aimed at providing children with healthier lunches and to help curb the epidemic of childhood obesity which affects one in five American kids.
The school lunch program is also the only meal that some American children will see all day. 13 million American kids struggle with hunger, and the nutrition in the school lunches is critically important for their growth and development.
But the well-being of children – after they’ve been born, that is – has never been a priority for Republicans, who are likely looking for ways to trim the budget so they can use that money to pay for tax breaks for the rich.
What possible reason could Trump and his cronies have to make school lunches less nutritious?