Health Groups Fear Bill Could Lead to Return of Pizza, Fries in Schools

Health advocates are blasting provisions in federal funding legislation that are seen as dialing back school nutrition standards, even as the White House seeks to downplay the riders as “minor adjustments” to the first lady’s signature policy.

The bill known as “cromnibus,” contains language that would allow states to exempt struggling districts from having to offer all whole grain products and eases requirements for schools to reduce sodium levels.

Critics who lobbied against more restrictive nutrition rules hailed the language as a win.

The American Heart Association, meanwhile, worries the changes will open the door for more legislation that will allow schools to revert back to serving pizza and French fries every day for lunch.

“I don’t think we quite know the extent of what these provisions will do and how to move forward with them,” AHA’s Government Relations Manager Kristy Anderson said. “This is the tip of the iceberg for them to keep chipping away and rescind a popular law that works.”

The White House, which formally came out Thursday in support of the $1.1 trillion package, is denying that the riders will have any major impact on Michelle Obama’s prized standards, which are in line with her efforts to combat childhood obesity.