Michelle Obama at introduction of new guidance for school meals


Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

Hoping to combat the growing problem of childhood obesity, the Obama administration on Wednesday announced its long-awaited changes to government-subsidized school meals, a final round of rules that adds more fruits and green vegetables to breakfasts and lunches and reduces the amount of salt and fat…

The rules were announced by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Michelle Obama at Parklawn Elementary School in Alexandria, Va.

“As parents, we try to prepare decent meals, limit how much junk food our kids eat and ensure that they have a reasonable balanced diet,” Mrs. Obama said in a statement. “And when we are putting in all that effort the last thing we want is for our hard work to be undone each day in the school cafeteria…”

The rules are the first changes in 15 years to the $11 billion school lunch program. They will double the amount of fruits and vegetables children are served in school and will require that all grains served are whole grains.

All milk served must be low fat, and for the first time the rules set limits on levels of salt and trans fats. They also set a minimum and maximum calorie intake per day based on student age…

Nutrition experts praised the new standards…

Representatives of the food industry generally also approved. Which only leaves Republicans and members of the Kool Aid Party to protest.

Earlier versions of the proposal met with political opposition because they would have cut the amount of potatoes served, a move not popular with lawmakers from potato-growing states. It would also have required schools to put more than a quarter-cup of tomato paste on a slice of pizza for it to count as a vegetable serving, an idea food service companies opposed as unappetizing. And the rules would have halved the amount of sodium in school meals gradually over 10 years.

A group of farm state senators, led by Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, blocked those earlier rules. Ms. Collins, who once worked on a potato farm, said the proposal to limit potatoes was overly restrictive…

Still, Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit research group in Washington, said the rules would provide healthier meals and have a major impact in reducing childhood obesity rates.

Despite Congress getting involved,” she said, “this is a very significant and comprehensive change that should improve the quality of school lunches.”

Delightful. An accurate evaluation of today’s bought-and-paid-for politicians in action.

Republicans still espouse the notion that if kids must be allowed to consume subsidized meals – at least they can be unhealthy.

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