May 20 2014
Patrice J. Lee
Students with rumbling tummies may get some relief soon. Republicans in Congress propose allowing some schools to opt out of healthier school lunch and breakfast mandates if they are losing money because students refuse to eat the food.
We are all too familiar with FLOTUS’s Let’s Move Campaign to combat childhood obesity. It’s a well-intentioned cause that some challenge goes too far. Mrs. Obama has worked with the USDA over the past two years to change what kids eat in schools. They set rules to limit fat, calorie, sodium, and sugar levels in school meals. Unfortunately, kids have rejected the new dietary changes costing schools and school systems wasted funding.
Schools find the limits restrictive and costly. As students refuse to eat the new “healthy” options, school administrators are forced to throw away fruits and vegetables along with needed school funding that could be better spent elsewhere.
FLOTUS and Washington, D.C. food police have not been deterred by pleas from school administrators to relax standards. But that may change if this waiver makes it through Congress.
ABC News reports:
A GOP spending bill for agriculture and food programs released Monday would allow schools to apply for waivers if they have a net loss on school food programs for a six month period.
The House Appropriations Committee said in a release that the waiver language is in response to requests from schools.
The School Nutrition Association, which represents school nutrition directors and companies that sell food to schools, endorsed the provision Monday and said that schools need more room to make their own decisions.
The School Nutrition Association says that almost half of school meal programs reported declines in revenue in the 2012-13 school year and 90 percent said food costs were up.
Nutrition advocates and other supporters of the rules say it will take some time for schools to adjust and the House proposal is overly broad. Margo Wootan of the Center for Science in the Public Interest says the House Republicans are using a "hacksaw rather than a scalpel" to try and solve problems some schools are having.
It may be true that the House measure is a broad approach, but it’s far less broad than the arbitrary standards that the Administration initiated.
To clarify, it’s not just that kids won’t eat their broccoli and vegetables, but that one-size-fits-all nutrition levels have been set in Washington with little regard for what students actually need. Student athletes, for example, need to consume far more calories than their more sedentary peers, but no accommodation has been made for that.
As a result students are going hungry in class and then waiting until after school to raid vending machines or their local fast food joints to fill up on the calories they’ve been deprived of.
With little or no flexibility school administrators are left without the ability to respond.
This is a demonstration of Washington thinking it knows best for our children and using its reach to force compliance with ill-advised regulations. These policies are counterproductive, arrogant, and ignore the individual needs of students to push an agenda.
Even more, as we often discuss feeding a child is a basic parental responsibility. When parents take a greater role in their children's nutrition research shows that kids are at a lower risk for obesity.
At least this is one measure to counter the tidal wave of government takeover of our kids’ school meals.