Hey Michelle - Making School Lunches "Healthy" Isn't an Accomplishment if No One Eats Them

Jennifer Van Laar
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Posted: May 13, 2017 6:13 AM
Hey Michelle - Making School Lunches "Healthy" Isn't an Accomplishment if No One Eats Them

Former First Lady Michelle Obama, speaking at the Partnership for a Healthier America summit in Washington, D.C., didn't hide her feelings about a recent decision by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to give local school districts more flexibility in complying with nutrition requirements for school meal programs.

Her comments went far beyond a little wounded pride and far into conspiracy theory.

"We gotta make sure we don't let anybody take us back, because the question is, where are we going back to? This is where you really have to look at motives. You really have to stop and think. Why don't you want our kids to have good food at school? What is wrong with you?

"Think about why someone is okay with your kids eating crap? Why would you celebrate that? If somebody is doing that, they don't care about your kid."

Accusing people of having bad motives, saying they don't want kids to have healthy food at school? What happened to, "When they go low, we go high?" 

The issue is really pretty simple. In a press conference with Secretary Perdue, Patricia Montague, CEO of the School Nutrition Association, said:

“We have been wanting flexibility so that schools can serve meals that are both nutritious and palatable. We don't want kids wasting their meals by throwing them away. Some of our schools are actually using that food waste as compost. That shouldn't be happening."

That's some costly compost. Perdue put it in simpler terms:

 “If kids aren't eating the food, and it’s ending up in the trash, they aren't getting any nutrition – thus undermining the intent of the program.”

Those arguments didn't sway Mrs. Obama.

“That to me is one of the most ridiculous things…’the kids aren’t happy,'” Mrs. Obama asserted. “Well, you know what? Kids don’t like math either. What are we gonna do, stop teaching math?”

No, we're not going to stop teaching math. But, how do you propose getting kids to eat those school meals? Over the last few years, since the Obama-inspired guidelines have been in effect, students have posted pictures showing just how unpalatable these lunches look and with detailed descriptions of how bad they taste. (At least their writing skills are being used.) Because so many students stopped buying school lunches, a growing number of local programs are running in the red, and that takes money away from classrooms.

But really, would she propose to have one-on-one aides force feeding them? As many parents know, you cannot physically force a child to do something they don't want to do. 

This issue illustrates the need for less federal control and more local control. At the local level, parents can be involved in partnering with local districts to create nutritious and tasty meals that children will actually eat - and a lot of federal bureaucracy will be gone.