First 100 Days: Actions on Healthy School Food

May 30, 2017

To reflect on the new administration’s first 100 days, we released the 100 Day Report: The Trump Administration’s Actions on Student Health and Wellness. At its core, the report tries to answer the question: How has the Trump administration acted on the opportunity to help create a better future for our children and our nation by improving health in schools?

The budget blueprint proposed by the administration during its first 100 Days, and then recently released in a more official form, would cut the USDA budget by 21 percent. In addition, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has already proposed rolling back adherence requirements for some of the nutrition guidelines for school meals.

With an administration that is amenable to scaling back the nutritional value and availability of healthy school lunches, expect legislators to reintroduce some potentially devastating policies that were part of legislation that did not pass in previous years. These include increasing the community eligibility threshold that allows schools to provide free meals to all of their students, block granting funds to states for school meals instead of having the funding follow the greatest need, and defining school meals as a public benefit, so that undocumented families would risk deportation for utilizing school meals.

Research continues to document the powerful connection between good nutrition and classroom performance. Limiting students’ access to healthy meals at school would directly undermine schools’ efforts to support student learning and academic success. The National School Lunch and Breakfast programs provide a vital lifeline to students living in poverty, allowing these students to escape hunger during the school day and concentrate on their education. Scaling back access to these programs would inevitably perpetuate or worsen the academic achievement gap.

We are concerned that the actions of this administration in its first 100 days indicate a lack of regard for the value of school health. These actions have in some cases put important supports for health and learning in jeopardy, including supports for our nation’s most vulnerable children.

In this context, your advocacy and leadership are more important than ever. These first 100 days show that it’s up to us—parents, teachers, advocates, elected officials and all who care about children’s health and learning—to carry on the work of ensuring every school can provide a safe and healthy learning environment for our nation’s children.

Read the full report to learn more about the specific actions the administration has taken and what the impacts might be. We have also developed a template letter that you can send to the White House to show the President that you care about student health and wellness and his administration should, too!