Who are you going to trust on school lunch nutrition – former first lady Michelle Obama or our new fast-food-loving president and an agribusiness owner?
The standards that Obama pushed as part of her “Let’s Move” campaign have been good for the health of America’s schoolchildren. Starting in 2012, the rules required schools to serve more fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains and limited salty, sugary and fatty foods.
New Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced Monday he will partly roll back those rules. After chowing down on chicken nuggets at a Virginia elementary school, he said the administration wants to “make school meals great again.” Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, the Republican chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, inserted similar language in the budget deal set for approval this week to fund the federal government through Sept. 30.
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So starting in the fall, low-fat chocolate milk and more white bread will be on the menu, and high-salt food can stay. We have no problem with low-fat chocolate milk for active children, but white bread and large amounts of salt are nobody’s friends.
In addition, when we have a crisis of diabetes and childhood obesity, why backslide on junk food?
The changes are opposed by many health advocacy groups but backed by corporations that sell food to schools. These corporations care about profits, but not a lick about improving kids’ health.
The big argument of Perdue and Roberts is that kids won’t eat the more nutritious food, and it’s being thrown out. Sure, healthy items need to more appetizing, but by that logic, we should just give kids burgers and fries every day.
Perdue and Roberts also say the Obama rules are too restrictive and costly for school districts. Congress, however, allows states to apply for waivers if they can’t meet standards. And we have to consider the higher health care costs that are sure to come from unhealthy lunches. Los Angeles Unified, the nation’s second-largest public school district, has already said it plans to stick with the healthier menu.
Donald Trump is signing one executive order after another to erase Barack Obama’s legacy, especially regulations to protect the environment and workers. Now, it seems his administration is going after Michelle Obama’s achievements as well, even if the health of America’s kids gets worse as a result.