Donald Trump Vs. Michelle Obama: The President Rolls Back Former First Lady’s Initiatives

Michele Gorman

Times they are a-changin’—in the White House, at least. President Donald Trump’s administration announced plans Monday to rollback two education and health initiatives created and championed by former first lady Michelle Obama.

Related: Michelle Obama: Trump’s comments have shaken me to my core

Obama, who rarely entered congressional policy debates, became actively engaged as an advocate for education and health eating during her eight years in the White House. She also entered the public fray shortly before the presidential election. After a 2005 video clip of Trump boasting about sexually assaulting women surfaced, Obama opened up about her feelings regarding the Republican candidate. In a stump speech for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in October 2016, Obama said his comments had “shaken me to my core.”

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First lady Michelle Obama dances during a surprise visit to Alice Deal Middle School for a “Let’s Move” fitness event in Washington, D.C., on May 3, 2011. (Molly Riley/Reuters )

Below is more on the Let Girls Learn and healthy eating initiatives.

Let Girls Learn

Then: Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama launched the signature girls’ education program in 2015 to provide adolescent girls around the world the education they need to fulfill their potential and lift up their families, communities and countries. In an op-ed for CNN last year, Obama said she decided to create the initiative after meeting Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani girl who survived being shot by the Taliban on her school bus. “For me, education has never been simply a policy issue—it’s personal,” she wrote.

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Obama mentioned the initiative as recently as Friday, when she spoke at the annual American Institute of Architecture conference. It was her first public address since leaving the White House.

Now: Peace Corps workers, who primarily directed the initiative, first discovered the Trump administration’s decision in an email Monday that stated they no longer would use the program as part of their initiatives, CNN first reported. “Moving forward, we will not continue to use the ‘Let Girls Learn’ brand or maintain a stand-alone program,” the email said, according to CNN.

Healthy Eating Initiative

Then: Under the Obama administration, the nutritional guidelines shifted for schools participating in the National School Lunch Program in an effort to make school lunches healthier. The program required cafeterias, for example, to boost fruit and vegetable offerings to stave off childhood obesity. The rollout was part of her Let’s Move campaign, which Obama had launched to help combat childhood obesity and ensure all families have access to healthy, affordable food in their communities. The administration had set fat, sugar and sodium limits on foods in school lunches.

Now: Also on Monday, Trump’s new agricultural secretary, Sonny Perdue—who has been on the job for less than a week—reportedly visited a Virginia elementary school to announce relaxed changes to healthy school lunches, including serving children fewer whole grains and 1 percent milk—instead of nonfat. Perdue said some school nutrition directors in the South had problems finding whole grain pastas and tortillas that kids would eat. The rollbacks are a signal to schools to have more free reign for following federal guidelines.

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