U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor is asking the federal Department of Agriculture to consider allowing school districts more flexibility in complying with new rules for the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program, his office announced in a press release Monday.

Pryor is one of 11 senators to have signed a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack saying the new rule, which became effective in March, prescribes too much of a one-size-fits-all approach in its effort to address children’s nutritional issues such as childhood obesity.

The senators say more flexibility is needed for certain students, such as athletes and those from low-income families, who may not consume enough calories and protein during the day. They say school districts have complained about the additional expense and paperwork.

The other senators who signed the letter were Sens. John Hoeven (R-ND), James Inhofe (R-OK), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Mike Enzi (R-WY), John Tester (D-MT), John Thune (R-SD), John Barrasso (R-WY), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Dan Coates (R-IN), and Tim Johnson (D-SD).

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Steve Brawner