May 28 2014
Watch out! The First Lady is mad.
At a White House event on Tuesday, the First Lady’s voice shook as she defended the school-lunch program against an open rebellion threatening to roll back her reforms. She explained that she’s just trying to help the “many families” who are “looking for help now in their efforts to find ways to feed their families balanced meals” adding, “moms and dads don’t want their efforts undermined when they send their kids off to school.”
Yet, the First Lady ought to consider that it’s the very same moms and dads she claims to defend who are doing much of the complaining about her school-lunch program.
The First Lady is doing her best to frame this debate as a good (her and her personal chef-turned-food-policy-expert Sam Kass) versus evil (those mean, junk-food defending Republicans) battle. But, in reality, the legislative proposal to roll back her 2010 school-lunch reforms is a congressional reaction to constituent complaints.
Those complaints are varied, but they mostly focus on the fact that many kids simply aren’t eating the food being served under the new program (many schools have reported massive waste in the lunch room), and others aren’t getting enough calories because of grade-specific (not child-specific) calorie requirements built into the system. In addition, limits on such healthy food flavor enhancers as butter and salt have been taken out of the lunch ladies’ toolbox, making it difficult (and frustrating!) for them to make this healthier food taste good. (One wonders if First Daughters Sasha and Malia have to eat lukewarm brown rice with no seasoning or butter. Looking at the Sidwell Friends lunch menu, methinks not.)
But the First Lady’s speech yesterday revealed more than just her anger. It exposed her total lack of faith in parents’ ability to feed their kids. Her suggestion that moms and dads need “help” making simple meals for their families isn’t just absurd and patronizing, it exposes who she really is — a woman so out of touch with the realities of the daily duties of normal American parents and kids that it makes her simply unqualified to speak to what families really “need.”
Let me offer some suggestions on that front: What Americans really need is a little less attention from the First Lady. Her efforts, while perhaps initially well meaning, have become something altogether altered: a vanity project where the goal isn’t better nutrition, but unquestioning compliance.
— Julie Gunlock writes for the Independent Women’s Forum.