‘Why don’t you want our kids to have good food at school? What is wrong with you, and why is that a partisan issue?’
(Lionel Parrott, Liberty Headlines) During her husband’s tenure in the Oval Office, Michelle Obama‘s main achievement was championing a 2012 policy that mandated more nutritious school lunches.
By 2014, the sarcastic #ThanksMichelleObama hashtag was trending on Twitter as students repudiated the constrictive options—such as banning chocolate milk—by posting pictures of their unappetizing culinary offerings.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue reversed the 2012 rule in late 2017, basing the decision on the widespread criticism and negative feedback, both from students and taxpayers.
As many kids were simply discarding the unwanted, nanny-state-mandated portions of their lunches, the result was substantial waste that undermined “the intent of the program,” Perdue said.
— San Diego Union-Tribune (@sdut) April 30, 2017
But a group of state attorneys general now says that the agriculture secretary’s reversal of the former first lady’s fiat was illegal, according to an article from The Hill.
On Wednesday, they announced a lawsuit claiming that the “arbitrary [and] capricious” rollback violated law by not allowing public comment ahead of the policy change.
“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,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James.
New York is joined in this endeavor by California, Illinois, New Mexico, Vermont and the District of Columbia.
The lawsuit, which names Perdue and the Department of Agriculture, as well as the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, could lead to a future landmark case on the legality of loosening standards for salt and whole grains in meals.
Citing a policy on not speaking on pending litigation, a spokesperson for the Agriculture Department declined to comment.
The states say they’re suing “to protect the health of the schoolchildren in their States by ensuring that nutritional standards for school meals are not changed without an opportunity to comment on the changes that, as required by Congress, the standards are based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences, and scientific research regarding children’s nutrition.”
In a statement, James noted that “low-income communities” and “communities of color” are most impacted by the rules change.
The Trump administration guidelines that litigants object to include allowing chocolate milk and no longer requiring schools to serve only whole grains (now, only half of grains served must be whole grains).
Michelle Obama also rebuked the policy change shortly after Perdue announced it, according to WRAL News.
“You have to stop and think, ‘Why don’t you want our kids to have good food at school? What is wrong with you, and why is that a partisan issue?'”