James Freeman has a good article over at the Wall Street Journal detailing House efforts to finally fix some of the problems Former First Lady Michelle Obama created when she meddled with the School Lunch program in 2010. 

The problems are almost too numerous to count but one of the worst changes she engineered in an effort to tackle childhood obesity was banning 2%- and whole-fat milk from schools and mandating that flavored milk be fat-free and traditional milk be, at most, 1% fat. This has resulted in milk consumption plummeting among kids. 

Bill sponsor Rep. Kim Schrier (D-Wash) issued a press release after the bill’s passage explaining why she thought this issue needed attention:

As a pediatrician, I have spent my career dedicated to the well-being of children and I know how important adequate nutrition is for growing kids,” said Rep. Schrier. “A healthy diet early in life leads to proper physical growth, improved academic performance, and a strong foundation for healthy eating habits as an adult. Milk, which provides essential calcium, phosphorous, and vitamin D, is an essential part of that diet. Whole milk is a filling, nutritious option that will help ensure.

I applaud Rep. Schrier for focusing on this issue but none of the information she includes in her press release about nutrition is new. I worked on this issue in 2010, and people were saying all of this then and warned that the changes Michelle Obama was advocating were ultimately nutritionally harmful. It all was ignored.

The other thing that was ignored? The fact that there’s a direct correlation between healthy kids and parents who play an active role in their child’s nutritional development. In fact, the year the school lunch reforms occurred, a massive study on childhood obesity was conducted at Ohio State university (I wrote about that study here, here, and here). What did the researchers conclude about how to keep kids at a healthy weight? Simple: put kids to bed at a reasonable hour, limit screen time, and sit down several times a week for a family dinner. In other words: be a parent.

Yet, Michelle Obama wanted to detangle kids from their parents (hmm…sounds familiar, right?) and make feeding kids a fundamental government, not parent, responsibility. Why? Because the government could be trusted to make good nutrition decisions. It was during these fights that the soft bigotry of low expectations reared its ugly head. The narrative was clear: parents were too busy or too dumb to feed their kids well—especially poor parents. I wrote about this trend here in 2010.

Personal choice is a bitter pill for food activists, regulators and big-government enthusiasts who prefer to blame the obesity “epidemic” on big business – like fast food chains – and portray poor Americans as children in desperate need of rescue from their uncontrollable food urges. As this latest study shows though, low-income Americans are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves and their family’s food needs.

This continues to play out today. Consider what’s happening with the illegal immigrants being housed in a hotel in New York City. Turns out, they don’t like the food they’re being offered for free. According to the New York Post:

Several migrants confessed to The Post Friday the meals served up at New York City asylum seeker shelters are so “bad” they often just trash them — with some opting to sneakily cook in their rooms instead. Their claims of terrible food came a day after it was revealed thousands of uneaten, taxpayer-funded meals prepared for asylum seekers are tossed each day. 

“No one likes the food,” Jesus Alberto, 31, from Venezuela, told The Post outside the Roosevelt Hotel — the Big Apple’s main migrant intake center.

Some might be quick to criticize these immigrants as ungrateful or picky for throwing away free food. Yet, that denies the very natural human desire to be in charge of basic things—like what one eats. This passage from the story particularly caught my attention:

Migrant mom, Johana Roa, 23, admitted the breakfast is varied, but not to her taste.

“The breakfast they give us is very sweet. They give us pancakes, donuts and cookies for breakfast at 6am. It is too sweet to give to my daughter, so I just take a few things.”

“Nothing healthy apart from eggs and fruit, apples and oranges. No oats,” she added.

As for the rest of the meals, she added: “The food is very cold and they don’t let us heat anything. You can’t heat the food,” migrant mom, Johana Roa, 23, said. 

However, she admitted to keeping a rice cooker in the Roosevelt shelter room she shares with her 2-year-old daughter daughter which they use to make meals. 

“They don’t let us cook so the mothers have rice pots we cook with. We make rice and meat in the rice pot in the room,” Roa said. 

“I try to cook as much as I can in our room so my daughter doesn’t eat too much food from the street. It’s not healthy.”

The truth is, parents, just like Johana Roa, want to be in charge of their children’s nutrition and are constantly told to pass that responsibility to the government—a government that actually makes bad decisions for kids, like removing whole-fat milk from school lunches. 

But that’s okay, they’ll finally fix their mistake…13 years later.