The Republicans are finally in a position to do something about Michelle Obama's "Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act"–the federal law that's spawned a million Instagram photos of high-school cafeteria trays containing a single slice of cheese, two florets of raw cauliflower, and no salt, because the Obama administration thinks it's bad for you.
The First Lady-pushed 2010 law, designed to combat child obesity, comes up for reauthorization on Sept. 30, and congressional Republicans are pushing to relax the Obama-administration regulations that have put every public-school kid in America on a diet:
School officials say students are turning their noses up to the meals that cap calories and limit sodium…
Republicans calling for more flexibility, like Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), are responding, at least in part, to pleas from the School Nutrition Association (SNA).
The group, along with National School Boards Association and the School Superintendents Association, has, for instance, been lobbying Congress to revert back to previous standards. They are pushing rules requiring only 50 percent of all grains offered to be whole-grain rich, as opposed to 100 percent, as the new regulations now require.
Critics also want to leave sodium levels where they are until research proves further reductions benefit children, and to do away with the requirement that forces schools to make each student take a half cup of fruit or vegetables with every meal.
“I’m seeing more food waste than is acceptable,” said Lynn Harvey, SNA’s incoming vice president and chief of School Nutrition Services for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.
“What we need are modest modifications to the rules that would enable us to provide foods that children like and will accept,” she said during a hearing of the House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education last month.
Not only, critics contend, have the strict standards caused participation in the school lunch program to decline, they’ve created black markets for salt packets in cafeterias and more work for security guards, who now have to stop pizza deliveries from coming onto campuses.
Since the issuance of final nutrition standards in the school lunch and breakfast programs in 2012, compliance costs and burdens on states and school districts are estimated to cost $3.2 billion by 2016, said Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), citing figures from the Food and Nutrition Service. At the same time, he said, a Government Operations report found participation declined by 1.2 million students from between the 2010-2011 and 2012-2013 school years.
The reaction of liberals to this is basically "shut up and eat that little cup of wilted raw carrots." Here are some sample comments from the Daily Kos:
For many, the school lunch is the first real meal they get to eat on a Monday after a weekend of not having anything of nutritional value to eat. That's two whole days between decent food.
But that's how the Republican's like their American's. Fat, lazy and stupid.
Because you, you little flag-waving gun-toting coal-rolling beer-bellied guttersnipe, are the only thing standing between the great forces of the United States military, all branches, and their secret goal of turning over Texas to th' Muslims.
Notice how highly the Kos-acks think of ordinary American parents and their desire and ability to provide nutritious meals for their children.
My own solution to the meager portions of mystery mush and celery sticks would be to pack my kids' lunch myself with what I happened to think was good for them. But here's what happened when a mom in Colorado mom who sent her five-year-old daughter to school with a ham-and-cheese sandwich, string cheese, and a packet of Oreos:
The child came back home from Children's Academy with the Oreos and a note from her teacher which read, in part:
'Dear Parents, it is very important that all students have a nutritious lunch. This is a public school setting and all children are required to have a fruit, a vegetable and a heavy snack from home, along with a milk. If they have potatoes, the child will also need bread to go along with it. Lunchables, chips, fruit snacks, and peanut butter are not considered to be a healthy snack. This is a very important part of our program and we need everyone's participation.'
Everyone into the lowfat-milk pool!