USDA chief blasts GOP attack on school lunch menus

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack urged the organic industry to fight back during a conference on Wednesday.

WASHINGTON—Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack fired back Wednesday at Republican-led efforts to weaken nutrition guidelines in the federal school lunch program that were championed by first lady Michelle Obama and enacted in 2010 when Democrats ruled the House.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 requires children to take a serving of fresh fruits or vegetables at their school lunch. The rules, which took effect in 2012, are in essence a massive national experiment, using the $10 billion national school lunch program to change American eating habits to reduce obesity and the chronic diseases that accompany it.

Headlining the Organic Trade Association’s annual conference Wednesday in Washington, Vilsack labeled as “outrageous” the GOP policy rider in the agriculture appropriations bill now moving through Congress, and he urged the organic industry to fight back.

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