Regular chocolate milk back on school menus as Obama-era rules are eased

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Chocolate milk with 1 percent fat will soon be back on public school lunch menus as the Trump administration eases nutritional standards put in place under President Obama.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday published a new interim rule, due to take effect on July 1 after a period of public comment, which relaxes sodium limits and whole-grain requirements on school lunches and also allows flavored milk with 1 percent back into school cafeterias nationwide.

Currently, public schools are allowed to serve only flavored milk that is nonfat or unflavored milk that is low-fat or nonfat.

"This is not reducing the nutritional standards whatsoever," Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told reporters when he unveiled the proposed changes in May. "I wouldn't be as big as I am today without flavored milk."

“Schools need flexibility in menu planning so they can serve nutritious and appealing meals,” Perdue said in a statement Thursday. “Schools want to offer food that students actually want to eat. It doesn’t do any good to serve nutritious meals if they wind up in the trash can."

The rule is meant to provide “regulatory flexibility” for the National School Lunch Program, which is a federally assisted meal program that provides nutritionally balanced, reduced-cost or free lunches to children.

Critics say the new rules will roll back the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act championed by former first lady Michelle Obama, who worked to tighten nutritional standards for the program as part of her campaign against obesity.

ABC News' Mariam Khan and Whitney Lloyd contributed to this report.

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