By Neetu Chandak
Several states along with the District of Columbia filed a complaint against the Trump administration Wednesday over the changes to school lunch standards they argue could deny “30 million students access to healthy nutritious meals.”
New York, Illinois, California, Minnesota, New Mexico and Vermont were the states that filed the suit against the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Agriculture Food and Nutritional Service and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.
The complaint argued the Trump administration’s Department of Agriculture (USDA) “significantly weakened” federal standards and did not give the “public notice of and an opportunity to comment on the 2018 changes.”
“By gutting the whole-grain standards and halting the progress in reducing sodium, the Trump administration risks stymieing [sic] this great progress and denying 30 million students access to healthy nutritious meals,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said at a news conference, The Wall Street Journalreported Wednesday.
The 2012 Obama-era rule, advocated by former first lady Michelle Obama, limited sodium intake and increased whole grains served in schools.
“If kids aren’t eating the food, and it’s ending up in the trash, they aren’t getting any nutrition – thus undermining the intent of the program,” Perdue said, according to a 2017 press release.
“The Trump Administration has undermined key health benefits for our children — standards for salt and whole grains in school meals — with deliberate disregard for science, expert opinion, and the law,” James said in a statement.
A 2014 study questioned the government’s assumption regarding low sodium content, however.
“There is no longer any valid basis for the current salt guidelines,” McMaster University professor and one of the study’s authors Andrew Mente told The Washington Post. “So why are we still scaring people about salt?”
Liberal advocacy groups Center for Science in the Public Interest and Healthy School Food Maryland also filed a similar complaint against the loosened standards, TheWSJ reported.
The USDA told The Daily Caller News Foundation it does not comment on pending litigation.
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