What a Donald Trump Presidency Means For Food Policy
"I would be very surprised if we don't see some major changes on the school lunch program."
President-elect Donald Trump is known for his fondness for fast food, a distinct departure from the emphasis on healthy eating set by the Obama administration. Now, food advocates are left to speculate how a Trump presidency will affect the country's food policies moving forward.
With First Lady Michelle Obama leading the charge, the current administration has made significant strides towards providing healthier and better-labeled food for all Americans, particularly children. Food safety laws were fortified and stricter label regulations were implemented by Congress under the Obama leadership, in addition to providing healthier school meals and cutting back on allowances for trans fats and sodium in packaged and processed foods.
According to Sam Kass, a former personal chef for the Obamas and senior adviser on nutrition, "Food advocates are already nostalgic for the Obama era and will be playing defense for the next few years." Some of these advocates include parents and school administrators who are uncertain of the Trump administration's plans for the revamped school lunch program.
"I would be very surprised if we don't see some major changes on the school lunch program," Representative Robert Aderholt of Alabama tells CBS News. Aderholt, who is the Republican chairman of the House subcommittee on Agriculture Department will also serve on Trump's agriculture advisory committee and provide input on the possible future of the daily dietary provisions for kids across the United States.
While many have praised the new lunch policies for providing healthier in-school meals for kids country-wide, Republicans and educators alike have questioned the affordability of those lunches and the difficulty to meet the stricter fat, sugar, and sodium limits on lunchroom menus.
The future of food stamps will also be called into question under a Trump presidency, as Republicans have historically opposed the country's current food stamp program, which currently allocates around $80 billion a year to feed those in need. Among the vocal critics of the current food stamp program is House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Another food industry mainstay that might experience a massive overall by the next adiministration is the Food and Drug Administration, as Donald Trump has previously called for a massive reduction in the country's regulatory standards for foods, even suggesting he would eliminate "the FDA food police". Trump, who has criticized the FDA for what he calls "inspection overkill" of food manufacturing facilities, has suggested the agency's governing of "the soil farmers use, farm and food production hygiene, food packaging, food temperatures," were overly invasive and should be given another look.
While it is unclear which food policies the President-Elect will pursue first, nutrition advocates note that any possibly harmful decisions can be fought on state and local levels. "The public is more interested than ever in nutrition and will continue to press companies," says Margo Wootan, a lobbysist for the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Wootan encourages Americans who are passionate about food-related issues to remain vocal in the coming years—no matter who's occupying the Oval Office.