The Trump administration has announced the reversal of new lunch standards at schools championed by former first lady Michelle Obama. The Agriculture Department made the statement on 17 January, which coincides with the latter's birthday. The department noted that the date for the announcement wasn’t chosen intentionally.
Under the new rules schools will be able to cut the number of fruit and vegetables required for lunch. Opponents of the initiative said it would create a loophole that will be used to flood school cafeterias with unhealthy food, like French fries, burgers, and pizza. Taking to Twitter agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said more common sense-flexibility is needed to provide pupils with nutritious meals.
Schools and school districts continue to tell us that there is still too much food waste and that more common-sense flexibility is needed to provide students nutritious and appetizing meals. We listened and now we’re getting to work. https://t.co/9cqYHlInuU— Sec. Sonny Perdue (@SecretarySonny) January 17, 2020
Critics of the reform note that it would affect children from low-income families that are likely to get their most healthy meal at school. Dr Rachel Borton, the director of the Family Nurse Practitioner online programme at Bradley University wrote:
"If those students don’t have access to the nutritious options provided by the school, they may turn to low cost, processed foods that are high in calories but sparse in nutrients. Immediate effects of this type of diet include weight gain and poor physical health. Long-term impacts range from increased risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and a slew of other unfortunate health outcomes".
Supporters of the rules say they would help diversify school meals and give schools more options for providing vegetables to students to meet nutrition requirements. They will also purportedly help to reduce food waste.