[Lynn Pye - this one is just for you! :-)]
Nobody – but nobody – is going to argue that America’s kids shouldn’t be following healthy diets, especially in school. Yet, a bill moving along in the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives would let school districts off the hook for upgrading to healthier lunches (i.e. fewer calories in sugar, salt and fat, more in fruits and veggies) if they’re losing money in the shift.
The bill’s proponents argue that cash-strapped schools need “flexibility” in the type of lunches they provide, and hence would waive the healthy lunch mandate. Leave aside the hypocrisy of lawmakers who would impose austerity budgets on public programs while shedding crocodile tears over the fiscal challenge of providing good food to poor kids. As Mark Bittman writing in the New York Times put it, the certain result of this bill becoming law will be more junk food – supplied by a rapaciously profit-seeking junk food industry – “flexibly” offered to our nation’s children.
Mandated nutrition standards are the best thing that have happened to childhood nutrition in a long while. We cannot afford to backslide. President Obama should clearly signal that any bill dampening progress in childhood nutrition reaching his desk is dead-on-arrival.