Charlotte Hays

First Lady Michelle Obama recently drew on her personal experience as a parent to justify her vastly unpopular intervention into the public school lunch program:

Before coming to the White House, I struggled, as a working parent with a traveling, busy husband, to figure out how to feed my kids healthy, and I didn’t get it right.

Our pediatrician had to pull me aside and point out some things that were going wrong.

I thought to myself, if a Princeton and Harvard educated professional woman doesn’t know how to adequately feed her kids, then what are other parents going through who don’t have access to the information I have?

If a Princeton and Harvard educated professional woman can’t figure out what to feed her young’uns, can you imagine the yucky stuff kids whose mothers and fathers went to community colleges are putting in their mouths?

As a graduate of Rhodes College in Memphis, I now see why it is such a blessing that I don’t have children. What on earth would I feed them—Tootsie Rolls and Coca-Colas?

Unfortunately, this highly affluent woman, who was pulling down in excess of $300,000 for a job in hospital administration before moving into the White House, yet apparently couldn’t devise simple, nutritious menus for her own children without an intervention from the family pediatrician (“Have you considered arugula, Mrs. Obama?”) is now trying to tell an entire nation what to feed the children.

Perhaps based on her experience of not having the foggiest what to feed Malia and Sasha, Mrs. Obama has reformed the school lunch program in public schools. Unlike previous first ladies, Mrs. Obama doesn’t rely on solely moral suasion (“Just Say No!”) to promote her cause.

Nope, Mrs. Obama teamed up with the USDA to drastically alter what is served in public school cafeterias throughout the nation. It should go without saying that we want lunches offered in public school cafeterias to be nutritious. But the first lady’s gourmet changes to the menus are so bland and unpalatable that about half the school districts in the country reported declining revenues from food service this school year, while 90 percent said that the cost of preparing food was higher, according to the National School Nutrition Association. Indeed, so adamant is the resistance to Mrs. Obama’s prescriptions for brown rice and one percent milk, that it might be said that the current generation of school children has given new meaning to “Just Say No!”


Charlotte Hays

Director of Cultural Programs at the Independent Women's Forum.