The House of Representatives is set to vote Thursday on a Department of Agriculture spending bill that contains a provision to allow schools to opt out of the Obama administration's healthy school lunch standards.
The vote is expected around 6 p.m. and follows a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on child nutrition. The hearing included testimony from retired Air Force general Richard E. Hawley on the impact that child nutrition has on the military. Hawley argued that rising childhood obesity causes fewer young adults to be able to serve in the military.
The administration's rules require schools to add more fruits and green vegetables to breakfasts and lunches as well as to reduce the amount of salt and fat in their meal options. They were a part of Michelle Obama's "Let's Move!" campaign to fight childhood obesity through healthy eating and exercise.
Obama has been actively defending the lunch standards. She railed Republicans for attempting to roll back the standards at a White House meeting with school leaders and experts at the end of May. She also had a New York Times op-ed in which she said, "Our children deserve so much better than this."
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) acknowledged that the healthy lunch standards create an additional cost for schools. However, she argued that treating conditions like Type 2 diabetes and hypertension in overweight children cost even more, about $14 billion a year.
"I have been very clear that we want to move forward," Stabenow said."We're not going to roll back what we're doing."
Stabenow should realize that whether or not medical treatment is more expensive, the schools aren't responsible for footing those healthcare costs. They are, however, responsible for paying for this mandatory policy that many children don't even want to utilize. While the cause is admirable, making such regulations mandatory will not work for every school. Obama needs to realize that a better strategy would be to work on this issue in other non-compulsory ways, rather than to maintain this required regulation that forces schools to play parent even when the policy clearly isn't working.