A federal court has struck down a Trump administration rule that rolled back school lunch nutrition standards put in place during the Obama administration.
U.S. District Judge George Hazel vacated the final rule and remanded it to USDA.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest and Rockville, Maryland-based Healthy Food Maryland filed a complaint in April 2019, alleging USDA violated the Administrative Procedure Act and the National School Lunch Act by issuing a final rule that weakened the nutrition standards regarding the amount of whole grains and sodium served in school meals.
The National School Lunch Program is the nation's second largest food and nutrition assistance program. About 95% of the nation's schools participate in the program, with meals provided to more than 30 million schoolchildren each school day.
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act made changes to school meal standards that included increasing the offerings of whole grain foods, offering both fruits and vegetables every day of the week, offering only fat-free or low-fat milk varieties, a focus on proper portion size and increasing the focus on reducing the amounts of saturated fat, trans fat and sodium in school lunches.
Under the Trump administration, USDA has been rolling back those standards. One proposal gives schools more choices on deciding which fruits and vegetables to serve. Another allows schools to offer lunch entrees a la carte.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue signed a proclamation that relaxed standards for whole grains, salt and milk.
"There is no scientific basis for the Trump administration to reverse the progress schools have been making in reducing sodium and increasing whole grains in school meals," the Center for Science in the Public Interest said in a media statement. "Since the now-invalidated rule was finalized, the recommendations on the permissible level of sodium for children have only been lowered."