Even as Trump’s term winds down, the administration’s assault on kids’ health continues

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Statement of Colin Schwartz, deputy director, federal affairs

The Trump administration inherited a huge success story from the Obama administration—the healthiest school meals ever served in American history, and on a trajectory of gradual improvement.

And yet for four long years, Trump’s Department of Agriculture has been trying to dismantle these historic reforms, sometimes with a pickaxe, sometimes with a sledgehammer. It has proposed more salt, more refined white flour, and more flavored sugary milk in school meals. It has maneuvered to serve kids typical junk foods like pizza, burgers, fries, and cookies with greater regularity.

Even when a federal judge put a stop to Trump’s first attack on the nutrition standards, the USDA went back to the drawing board—only to come up with the warmed-over dud of a proposal we have before us today.  

Given the imminent release of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans early next year, which are fully expected to affirm the need for even further sodium reduction in the diets of children and the need for half the grains in the diet to be whole grains, this exercise is also untimely.

We will request a six-month extension of the comment period so that the standards for school meals are consistent with the latest Dietary Guidelines recommendations.

Now more than ever, the meals served by our schools are critical to the health of kids.

When the 117th Congress and President-elect Biden have each been sworn in, we hope they work to restore the broad, bipartisan backing that the school meal program has historically enjoyed. And we hope that during the pandemic and after, every child has access to nutritious, enjoyable, and universally free school meals.

Contact Info:  Contact Jeff Cronin (jcronin[at]cspinet.org) or Richard Adcock (radcock[at]cspinet.org).