A coalition of attorneys general led by New York sued the Administration of US President Donald Trump on Wednesday for having relaxed important federal nutrition standards in breakfasts and lunches that serve about 30 million students in the US .US.
According to the lawsuit, filed in federal court for the Southern District of New York and announced by the State Attorney General, Letitia James, the Department of Agriculture reduced the nutritional standards for sodium and whole products that had been established. by law.
Prosecutors from New York, California, Illinois, Minnesota, New Mexico, Vermont and the District of Columbia allege that the agency made the changes without providing the public with the opportunity to comment and against the nutritional requirements for school meals established by the school. Congress, which in 1946 passed the National Law on School Lunches.
In 1966, recognizing the relationship between good nutrition and a child's ability to develop and learn, the Child Nutrition Law was approved with the objective of subsidizing breakfasts.
The complainants argue that they have taken this legal action to protect the health of school children in their states and to ensure that these standards are not changed.
Under the administration of former President Barack Obama, former First Lady Michelle Obama led an initiative focused on solving the problem of childhood obesity, which was implemented based on the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.
More fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free milk were added to the menu, and the levels of saturated fat, sodium, and calories in the meal program administered by the Department of Agriculture were required.
In 2017 the new Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, signed an order to freeze the implementation of the standards imposed by Obama.
According to Perdue, the action was to "give more flexibility" to the schools by delaying until 2020 the imposition of limits on sodium that may be contained in school menus and granting exceptions to schools that do not want to comply with the requirement to serve food with cereals. integral
He said it was the result of complaints from many school cafeteria administrators that the new demands made lunches less appealing to children and increased the waste of food, which was also more expensive.
These changes, according to the coalition of prosecutors, were not made in accordance with the law, and they are considered "arbitrary and capricious."
The coalition also argues that in 2018 about 30 million children consumed about 5,000 million lunches and that more than 14 million children ate breakfast in schools.
They also stressed that these programs are especially important for children from low-income families.
School meals may have a cost that depends on the income of the family. According to the demand, in 2018 more than 74% of the lunches and 85% of the breakfasts were free or for a reduced price.
"More than a million children in New York, especially those in low-income communities, depend on meals served daily in schools to be healthy, and prepare them to learn," James told a news conference to inform of legal action.