President Donald Trump continues to try to erase all traces of the Obamas, with his newly minted Agriculture secretary ending regulations around healthy eating in public schools, a signature initiative of former first Lady Michelle Obama.
At the top of the week, Mrs. Obama’s 2015 Let Girls Learn imitative was reportedly being discontinued, but administration officials later clarified that the program was not being cut.
In addition to girl’s education in developing countries, Mrs. Obama also took supporting military families and seeking to curb childhood obesity in the U.S. during her tenure as America’s first lady.
However, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced on Monday a rollback of school lunch standards championed by the former first lady, declaring at a Virginia school that the administration would “Make School Meals Great Again.”
NPR reports that Perdue argued on Monday that these new standards – real vegetables, less junk food, whole grain requirements, sodium content and milk options — led to children simply not eating the lunches.
“If kids aren’t eating the food, and it’s ending up in the trash, they aren’t getting any nutrition — thus undermining the intent of the program,” he said..
The USDA will now let states grant exemptions regarding whole grain standards for the 2017-2018 school year and lessen the strict milk and sodium standards as well.
Many skeptical of the new secretary’s policies say they are not for the benefit of children or “lessened government regulation,” but to line the pockets of agribusinesses which push unhealthy foods into schools via government contracts.
In fact, on the USDA website, Perdue’s first priority as secretary is to “First … maximize the ability of the men and women of America’s agriculture and agribusiness sector to create jobs, to produce and sell the foods and fiber that feed and clothe the world, and to reap the earned reward of their labor.” [Emphasis ours]
As small consolation, a spokeswoman for first lady Melania Trump confirmed that she plans to keep up the vegetable garden that Mrs. Obama planted at the White House.