New York state Attorney General Letitia James announced a multi-state lawsuit against the Trump administration Wednesday claiming it illegally weakened federal nutritional standards for school lunches backed by former first lady Michelle Obama.
The lawsuit, which was brought by New York, California, Illinois, Minnesota, New Mexico, Vermont and Washington D.C., was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
The states argue that the Trump administration’s Department of Agriculture (USDA) rollback of sodium limits and whole-grain requirements for school meals “lacks legally-mandated scientific basis” and “was adopted without public notice and opportunity to comment.”
“Over a million children in New York – especially those in low-income communities and communities of color – depend on the meals served daily by their schools to be healthy, nutritious, and prepare them for learning,” James said in a statement. “The Trump Administration has undermined key health benefits for our children – standards for salt and whole grains in school meals – with deliberate disregard for science, expert opinion, and the law. My office will use every tool at our disposal to fight back against these shameful rollbacks and ensure our children are protected.”
The administration allowed some “planning flexibilities” in 2017. USDA broadened milk options, offering flavored, low-fat milk; would require that half of the weekly grains in the school lunch and breakfast menu be whole grain-rich; and would give schools more time for gradual sodium reduction. The new rules are slated to go into effect on July 1, 2019.
“This announcement is the result of years of feedback from students, schools, and food service experts about the challenges they are facing in meeting the final regulations for school meals,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said at the time. “If kids aren't eating the food, and it’s ending up in the trash, they aren't getting any nutrition – thus undermining the intent of the program.”
The National School Lunch Program is a federally subsidized program that provides students with healthy balanced meals in schools at low – or no – cost, according to the New York attorney general’s office.
Neither the Department of Agriculture nor the Justice Department immediately responded to Fox News' request for comment.
The lawsuit adds to a slew of investigations and legal actions against Trump by James. James, in December, vowed to continue investigations started by disgraced former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and successor Barbara Underwood into Trump and his organizations, including probing real estate deals and looking into “anyone” in his inner circle who could have violated the law.
Underwood previously brought a lawsuit against the Trump Foundation, alleging illegal conduct and “unlawful political coordination” to benefit Trump’s personal and business interests. That suit, in December, forced the Foundation to dissolve.
“We will use every area of the law to investigate President Trump and his business transactions and that of his family as well,” Letitia James told NBC News in an interview last year. “We want to investigate anyone in his orbit who has, in fact, violated the law."
In addition to investigations into Trump's personal business dealings, James vowed to investigate any government subsidies Trump may have received and whether he has violated the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution.