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"Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Wednesday celebrated and defended the Trump administration's recent controversial move to relax some of the school-nutrition standards championed by former first lady Michelle Obama. Perdue was in friendly territory as he spoke to the crowd of some 7,000 professionals at the School Nutrition Association’s annual conference in Atlanta. The crowd cheered, applauded and laughed as Perdue told them that he believed they know much more about their communities and kids than Washington does. Perdue was adamant that the administration’s new policy isn't a step backward (health advocates and Michelle Obama disagree). “Some have said in the press, as you’ve read, that we’re ‘rolling back’, [that] these rules ‘roll back progress.’ I don’t agree with that,” Perdue said. “We’re freezing things in place to help us evaluate what the palatability, what the acceptance of these changes have been and to reduce the burdens on schools to get you back to feeding kids and not doing paperwork so much anymore.” he secretary told the crowd he had vivid memories of the cinnamon rolls his beloved “school lunchroom ladies” served him growing up, saying that when he closed his eyes he could almost taste them. “You know what? Back then, there was very little childhood obesity. Why’s that? Because we played outside all the time and there were nutritious meals at home,” Perdue said, to cheers. “But we know times have changed. Today you’re still responsible for providing, many times, the main meal for many children.” Perdue said he wants SNA to help USDA make school nutrition standards better. The secretary said he recently invited Lynn Harvey, SNA's new president, and the organization's incoming board to come to Washington and give the department "direct, specific advice on how we can make the best rules going forward possible." We do have a childhood obesity epidemic: The invite is likely raise the ire of health advocates, who fiercely oppose the association's efforts to relax some of the nutrition standards championed by Mrs. Obama. The standards are based on recommendations by the Institute of Medicine."

Posted July 13th, 2017
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