Dec 7, 2018, 4:18 AM ET

Trump administration finalizes rollback of school lunch regulations championed by Michelle Obama

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The Trump administration has finalized a rollback of school lunch regulations championed for years by former first lady Michelle Obama.

Under the rules first announced last year, schools are now allowed to offer more flavored milk options, like chocolate. Additionally, the Obama-era efforts to limit sodium content in school lunches have been delayed or partially eliminated. The announcement Thursday doesn't require schools to make any changes, but allows them to relax restrictions on those products.

The changes will impact 99,000 schools and institutions that feed 30 million children every year, according to the Department of Agriculture.

PHOTO: Children in a summer program eat lunch at a cafeteria in Buxton, Maine, July 12, 2018.Press Herald via Getty Images, FILE
Children in a summer program eat lunch at a cafeteria in Buxton, Maine, July 12, 2018.

At a May 2017 press conference first announcing the move to deregulate school food, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the decision was not meant to reduce nutritional standards. He argued that children would avoid nutritious foods all together if they weren't given more flavored options.

"I wouldn't be as big as I am today without chocolate milk," Perdue said at the time.

The decision is part of the Trump administration’s broad efforts to reduce “unnecessary regulatory burdens” across the federal government.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a food policy advocacy group, condemned the move.

“The Trump administration is putting politics before children’s health in ways worse than were expected,” the organization said in a statement.

PHOTO: Homemade taco, tortilla chips, corn and edamame, grape tomatoes, ranch dressing, clementine & 1% milk make up a student meal at at an elementary school in Silver Spring, Md., Feb. 12, 2018.Washington Post via Getty Images, FILE
Homemade taco, tortilla chips, corn and edamame, grape tomatoes, ranch dressing, clementine & 1% milk make up a student meal at at an elementary school in Silver Spring, Md., Feb. 12, 2018.

Parke Wilde, a food policy professor at Tufts University, said the USDA should provide clear evidence before rolling back standards.

"For many years, leading researchers and public health nutrition organizations have urged USDA to provide children with school meals that have less salt and sugar, and more whole grains,” Wild said. “This rule does the opposite."

ABC News' Stephanie Ebbs contributed to this report.

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  • Ashes69

    He's just trying to undue anything, EVERYTHING that the Obama's ever touched just to prove his twisted point, which will effect these kids adversely, which he cares nothing about. He thinks by undoing any good the previous administration did, thinking he can do it better, is just to stroke his own ego, and nothing more. And everyone sees right through his lame tricks. It's all about him, always has been, always will be.

  • BrianDamage

    The government is clueless when it comes to nutrition, regardless of which administration is in charge. The FDA, USDA, AHA, etc., guidelines are killing the American people, staring with our children. Over-weight, obese and diabetic has become the norm in our country as a result!

  • Charles Cantrell

    These pictures of stuff like taco salads and stuff are misleading, back in school we had NOTHING that looked this good. Some of us had to stick to the Salad bar to get anything decent looking when we could even afford to eat lunch.

  • Phil B.

    Enjoy your balogna sandwiches and Kraft Mac and Cheese kids. :/

  • mrstoniwTEXAS

    Definitely putting politics before good, common sense. Someone should put a stop to this!