Minnesota joins lawsuit hoping to re-raise school lunch nutrition standards

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Minnesota is one of several states serving up a lawsuit over school lunches.

Attorney General Keith Ellison joined the suit Wednesday, accusing the Department of Agriculture of weakening nutrition standards.

Ellison says 600,000 children in Minnesota participated in the National School Lunch Program last year and 200,000 were in the breakfast program.

They were all affected by relaxed nutrition standards enacted last year, but the lawsuit wants to give the federal government some food for thought.

“I would say they are very important,” said Christina Notermann, a parent. “That’s what they need to have to able to make it through the day.”

As the mother of two grade-schoolers, Notermann only lets them have school lunches twice a week because they aren’t as healthy as the ones she makes at home.  

“They fruit they are getting is all in syrup, not fresh fruit,” Notermann lamented. “The vegetables, it doesn’t seem great.”

Back in 2012, the Obama Administration implemented rules requiring schools participating in the National School Breakfast and Lunch Programs to serve meals with less salt, more whole grains and fat-free flavored milk.

Last year, the Trump Administration relaxed those sodium and whole grain requirements and allowed schools to serve 1% chocolate milk.

“Of course kids want to eat the sweetest, saltiest, sugariest food they can get their hands on,” said Ellison. “The bottom line is, we as adults have the responsibility to make sure the food they are getting is nutritious and good for them.”

Now, Minnesota is one of six states and Washington, D.C. suing the Department of Agriculture claiming those rollbacks were illegal because there was no public comment and they go against requirements for school meals set by Congress.

“We’re doing two things,” Ellison said. “We’re standing up for quality food and kids and we’re making sure the administration follows the law.”

Notermann says the government should be trying to make school lunches healthier for all kids, not the other way around.

"Why would they relax it? There is no reason to. It’s only to make things cheaper. I would be willing to pay more for school lunches in order to have more for school lunches in order to have more nutritious items,” she said.