House Republicans are due to vote this week on an agriculture spending bill that includes a provision rolling back the nutritional requirements in school lunches, but First Lady Michelle Obama is already calling out the GOP.
In an interview with MSN, Michelle Obama called out the House Republicans for offering up some bad policy just as the US is batting an epidemic of childhood obesity:
It is our job as adults to make sure that our kids eat what they need, not what they want. I struggle with that in my own life, and I tell you, if I let my kids dictate what we have for dinner every day, it would be French fries, chips and candy, but we don’t run our households like that, and we can’t run our schools like that.
The first step is not to roll back the standards, but to help the schools that are struggling do a better job at making the meals more enjoyable for the kids. Good health and flavor go hand in hand.
What we need to do is lend a hand to the schools that are struggling, not roll back the standards and say, Oh, well. The kids don’t like it so let them eat cake. We can’t afford to do that.
Republicans are using the rising cost of fruits and vegetables as their reason to roll back the 2010 school lunch nutritional requirement that more fruits and vegetables be offered at meal time. The School Nutrition Association, which gets nearly two thirds of its funding from frozen and processed food companies, is working with House Republicans to roll back the standards.
This fight has nothing to do with the health and wellness of students. It is all about processed food giants like ConAgra Foods, Tyson Foods and Domino’s Pizza trying to push healthy food options out of the cafeteria.
President Obama has threatened to veto the entire agriculture bill if Republicans remove the nutritional standards, “The Administration strongly opposes language in the bill that would require the Secretary to establish a waiver process to eliminate current nutrition requirements for school breakfasts and lunches during the 2014-2015 school year for any school or district that demonstrates a net operating loss on school meals for at least six months beginning in July 2013. This would be a major step backwards for the health of American children by undermining the effort to provide kids with more nutritious food. More generally, the Administration strongly opposes the inclusion of any language in the bill that would override science-based standards that improve child nutrition.”
The price of fruits and vegetables has increased by 2.6%, but instead of offering more funding to school districts, Republicans are trying to make out kids fat, or fatter as the case may be. This isn’t about liberty, freedom, big government, or any of the other buzzwords that Republicans like to throw around. The debate here is centered around the Republican willingness to jeopardize the health and well being of children in the name of corporate profits.
The long-term consequences of childhood obesity include, “high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, joint problems, sleep apnea, fatty liver disease and type 2 diabetes.” Over one third of American children and adolescents are obese. First Lady Michelle Obama is fighting so that they can have a healthy future while House Republicans are willing to turn overweight children into unhealthy adults in the name of corporate profits.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA.Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association