Trump Rolls Back Michelle Obama’s Healthy Kids Act Initiative - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise magazine Fall 2019 issue

It seems like President Trump is still on a mission to undo the initiatives launched by his predecessor. This time, the Trump administration has announced a rollback of former first lady Michelle Obama’s signature initiative for healthier school lunches, according to Bloomberg. To add insult to injury, this was done on her 56th birthday on Jan. 17.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced a proposed new regulation that will offer schools more flexibility to serve a la carte entrees to students and allow more varieties of vegetables to be used to meet nutrition requirements, cut administrative burdens, and reduce the waste of food.

“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,” Perdue said. “We listened and now we’re getting to work.”

Obama’s Healthy Kids Act had set higher nutrition standards, encouraged more fruits and vegetables, and reduced-sodium, saturated fat, and trans fat intake. “The Trump administration’s assault on children’s health continues today under the guise of ‘simplifying’ school meals,” Colin Schwartz, the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s deputy director for legislative affairs, said in a statement to The Associated Press.

The proposal would give schools greater flexibility in offering entrees for a la carte purchases, which Schwartz said would “create a huge loophole in school nutrition guidelines, paving the way for children to choose pizza, burgers, french fries, and other foods high in calories, saturated fat, or sodium in place of balanced school meals every day.”

Schwartz also stated that the regulations also reduce weekly requirements for serving orange and red vegetables such as carrots, tomatoes, or butternut squash, which he said now may be replaced in many schools with potato products such as french fries. School breakfasts also won’t be required to have as much fruit, which may be replaced by less-nutritious baked goods or granola bars.

In December 2018, The Trump administration initially proposed to roll back the requirements the Obama administration required under the Healthy Kids Act to increase whole-grain foods and reduce sodium in school meals.