WASHINGTON – The Trump administration has proposed significant changes to menus at the nation’s public schools that would allow more pizza, fries and burgers, and fewer fruits and vegetables for students to choose from.
The new proposed rule was announced Friday by Brandon Lipps, deputy under secretary for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Nutrition and Consumer Service, the agency that administers the nutrition program serving roughly 30 million children at 99,000 public schools across the country, the Washington Post reported.
This is the latest effort by Trump’s Agriculture Department to undo the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act adopted during the Obama administration and championed by then-First Lady Michelle Obama to tackle the growing childhood obesity epidemic in the United States.
The proposed rule would increase the number of food options high in sodium and saturated fat students could choose from, while letting schools cut the amount of fruit served during breakfast from one cup to half a cup and serve potatoes and fries in lieu of other, healthier vegetables as lunch options.
According to the Post’s report, the potato industry has long sought these changes to the nation’s school nutrition program.
“The potato industry and junk food lobbyists should not be able to dictate what is and is not on school menus for 30 million students,” said Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook. “Just because President Trump consumes cheeseburgers and fries every day doesn’t mean children want or should be given the same choice. There are far too many kids struggling with obesity in this country, and we should be making it easier for them to choose fresh, local whole fruits and vegetables, not limiting them to highly processed foods that will only make this epidemic worse.”
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 14 million children and adolescents struggle with obesity.
EWG has long advocated for healthy foods for children both in school and at home, and has conducted numerous research projects to shine a light on the use of pesticides and other chemicals in the nation’s food supply that are linked to serious health problems in both children and adults.
The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.