First lady responds to school meal critics

The last thing we can afford to do right now is play politics with our kids' health," Mrs. Obama says
Associated Press
May 28, 2014

First lady Michelle Obama is striking back at House Republicans who are trying to weaken healthier school meal standards, saying any effort to roll back the guidelines is "unacceptable."

The rules set by Congress and the administration over the last several years require more fruits, vegetables and whole grains in the lunch line and set limits on sodium, sugar and fat. The first lady met Tuesday with school nutrition officials who said the guidelines are working in their schools.

The event was an unusual move for the first lady, who has largely stayed away from policy fights since she lobbied for congressional passage of a child nutrition law in 2010.

"The last thing we can afford to do right now is play politics with our kids' health," Mrs. Obama told participants.

An agriculture spending bill approved by a House subcommittee last week would allow schools to waive the standards if they have a net loss on school food programs for a six-month period. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., who wrote the bill, said he was responding to requests from school food directors who have said the rules are too restrictive. The School Nutrition Association, which represents school nutrition directors and companies that sell food to schools, has lobbied for changes to the standards and endorsed the House bill.

The House Appropriations Committee is expected to approve the spending bill this week.

At the White House event, school nutrition directors from New York City to Los Angeles to a rural county in Georgia told the first lady success stories about implementing the standards and said they would be disappointed to see any roll backs.

"We're not just talking about food, we're talking about education," said David Binkle of the Los Angeles Unified School District. He said participation is up in his district, along with test scores and graduation rates, since they made school foods healthier there.

The first lady asked the group for advice about how they can better respond to schools that are struggling, and suggested that the conversation should be focused on helping those schools rather than rolling back some of the standards completely. She said the government and schools can also do more to work with students to get them interested in what they are eating.

The president of the School Nutrition Association said Tuesday that the school officials invited to the White House weren't representative of those who have concerns.

"Our request for flexibility under the new standards does not come from industry or politics, it comes from thousands of school cafeteria professionals who have shown how these overly prescriptive regulations are hindering their effort to get students to eat healthy school meals," said SNA's Leah Schmidt.

The schools pushing for changes say limits on sodium and requirements for more whole grains are particularly challenging, while some school officials say kids are throwing away fruits and vegetables that are required.

The Agriculture Department, which administers the rules, has tweaked them along the way to try to help schools that have concerns. The department scrapped limits on the amount of proteins and grains that kids could eat after students complained they were hungry. Last week, USDA announced it would allow some schools to delay serving whole grain pastas just hours after the House subcommittee approved the opt-out language.

Not all school groups are lobbying for changes. The national PTA is pushing lawmakers to keep the standards intact.

"At a time when families are working hard to live healthy lives, school meals should be supporting families' efforts, not working against them," PTA President Otha Thornton wrote to members of Congress.

 

Comments

YoMamma

"The last thing we can afford to do right now is play politics with our kids' health," Mrs. Obama told participants. LMAO, that's just plain funny. You can't make this stuff up!

From the Grave

This is why we are all doomed...

freespeech1

Thousands of schools have dropped out of her program, GOOD! Her and her worthless liar of a husband need to just go away.

deertracker

You shouldn't waste your free speech on stupid comments! Your choice though!

Contango

Re: "stupid comments!"

FINALLY, something you know about. :)

deertracker

"OMG, do you have to drink a jug of that stuff every single morning?" asked Mrs. Pooh.

"It's not a jug, it's a mason jar." responded pooh!

Contango

Re: "OMG (snip)"

To quote you: "You shouldn't waste your free speech on stupid comments!"

deertracker

To quote you: "Finally, something you know about :)."

Contango

Re "Finally, something you know about,"

You're correct: The FACT that you're an expert in stupid comments.

freespeech1

Whatever Sherlock, the reason kids are fat today is because of lack of outside activities. Years ago baseball fields were always full of kids playing pick up games and such, today they lay empty. Video games and other tech have turned our kids into cyber zombies. School lunches are NOT making kids fat and we don't need this clown of a woman telling us what we will feed our children. You may want a nanny state of mindless drones but myself I want to run my family the way I see fit. Government has no business dictating every aspect of our lives.

deertracker

No, that's the reason more kids are fat there brainiac. Fat people have existed for....EVER. Just a lot more now.

Fromthe419

Four words can explain why obesity is rampant in this country....High Fructose Corn Syrup. I put on a few pounds over the years and I started looking at what is in the the food I eat, since January I dropped 30 pounds and now I'm close to my college years weight. Cut that garbage out and you'll be amazed what our children would look like.

Contango

Re: "I dropped 30 pounds,"

Diet and exercise - there ain't no magic.

Haranguing by the First Lady accomplishes neither.

Contango

Centrally planned social engineering seldom works.

If kids won't eat it and throw it out, where's the benefit?

More Bolshevik, 'feel good,' 'well-intentioned' BS.

"No Appetite for Good-for-You School Lunches":

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/0...

deertracker

You guys are less intelligent than I thought. You do realize these are the youth of tomorrow? How can you have a problem with healthier eating in school? SMDH!

Is Bolshevik your "big" word for the week?

Look around you...America is FAT!

Contango

Re: "problem with healthier eating in school"

Again: Feel-good, taxpayer funded, central planning nonsense.

"Bolshevik." If the 'shoe' fits, wear it Comrade deer.

Donegan

These youth of tomorrow will get skinny when they are destitute and starving because Washington and the Left has sold them into debt.
You never see a fat person in the soviet food lines?

deertracker

Dummy, please stop. You sound ridiculous!

Donegan

I forgot, You along with the rest of your ilk think the bill will never come due. I wonder what your children will say in 20 years about your stupidity.

The Big Dog's back

The question they will be asking is why did you let our planet go to he!!. Because of a few dollars? Really?

Donegan

Pretty sure borderline starving people who are destitute could give a dam about what you think is a clean environment. Will you admit to contributing to turning the country into a third world sh** hole? Nah you'll blame it on someone else because that all you people are good at.

Contango

Re: "Dummy (snip)"

To quote you: "You shouldn't waste your free speech on stupid comments!"

jazzbo

Donegan -

The Repubs are helping America stay skinny by cutting food stamps.

WeThePeople1965

This program smells politically fishy-- good thing it's not mandatory. The schools don't need to be told how to feed the kids, it's not school lunch that is causing obesity, it's what they eat outside of school and lack of physical activity. What's next-- food rationing to 'control obesity'?

Informed

School lunches certainly do contribute to obesity. When they are getting little nutritional value, and nothing but unhealthy fats and simple carbs, how can you honestly say that doesn't contribute to obesity?

ladydye_5

They are not eating healthier in school. The kids throw it away. The lunch ladies tell them, they need to take it, but they don't care what they do with it after they leave the line. It is a complete waste of money. The school wastes money buying it, the parents waste money buying it and the kids throw it all away. I do NOT know any child, of any age that eats cut up tomatoes and peppers as a vegetable. That is a an option on the line at our school. There is NO dip, no salt/pepper. Nothing. But they have to take it, then they throw it away. Same with whole wheat buns. The kids take them off and just eat the hamburger (if you can call it that, the mystery patty with fake cheese). Bring back the lunch ladies cooking real food. Not the government funded can of crap, that is heat and serve.

Silliness

Some people just don't realize the school lunch is pretty much all the nutrients some children get in a day. Yes, it's true, for some. If they aren't eating it because of taste/content they just aren't eating. It's sad, but it's a fact of life.

wetsu

ladydye_5 is spot on.

Informed

My child eats peppers all the time--no dressing or dip, prefers it that way. And we eat whole wheat bread, including hamburger buns, every time we eat bread. So you are wrong.

deertracker

Very nice looking woman!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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