For seven years, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act required America’s schools to serve children plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and kept tight limits on added sugar and sodium in their lunches. These rules were a signal success of the Obama administration: According to one estimate, they would have prevented almost 2 million new cases of childhood obesity.
That’s “would have,” because Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has rolled them back. In deference to the food industry — most particularly the dairy industry, which has a sizable school market — he softened the standards for whole grains, and reopened the door to sweet chocolate milk and sodium-heavy cheeses. A bunch of states are now suing to get this change reversed. They deserve to succeed, because Perdue’s reasoning was weak.