Republicans have declared war on the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, first sponsored in 2010 by Michelle Obama, and ridiculed it as not being “popular” with kids.When you’re 8 years old, and mom and dad aren’t around to supervise your food options, what kid wouldn’t choose pizza over broccoli? No one blames kids for this, but Republicans like John Kline from Minnesota, who is personally leading the fight in the house to dismantle the program entirely, are either 1) completely oblivious or 2) putting Big Food’s industry dollars directly in their own pockets.
School lunch is a big industry, after all – make no mistake about it. Over 30 million students eat school lunch every single day. That adds up to a lot of hamburger patties, french fries, and pizza sauce. And, a lot of money. “Sponsors,” like Domino’s Pizza, with a penchant for pushing their nutritionally void products onto helpless school children for big profits, attend conferences like the School Nutrition Association (SNA), the country’s largest organization for those that run school meal programs.
Their aim is to sell to as many schools as possible with their company’s products. It’s as simple as that. They aren’t concerned with nutrition, despite whatever the wolf in sheep’s clothing may tell you.
Republican Rep. John Kline thinks that these sponsors are more suitable for guiding policy on school lunches than the government is. No wonder school lunches, for the longest time, have looked like something straight from McDonald’s while many other countries serve their kids perfectly nutritious options.
In an interview with CBS Minnesota, Rep. Kline (R) said:
We need to let schools, let the experts provide the food that they think is necessary.
Let’s go over a short list of the “experts.” Domino’s Pizza was already mentioned. Here’s the rest: Kellogg’s, PepsiCo, General Mills, Sara Lee, Barilla, Kikkoman, Land O’Lakes, Five Star, Schwans – the list goes on.
For only $25,000, according to a brochure from the SNA, a “sponsor” can mingle with House and Senate leaders at a high profile event, and even have the honor of introducing congressional leaders in attendance, as well as be recognized with on-site signage.
These experts are the speakers at these conferences, and are precisely who Republicans think should have more “flexibility” in determining what school children eat.
This is the problem with the Republican ideology: “Big Government” needs to take a hike, so “Big Business” can step in. This is the side of the story they don’t ever talk about.
How is PepsiCo going to make better decisions regarding children’s health than the government? I’ll save you time thinking about it – it’s not.
Michelle Obama wrote an op-ed article last year in the New York Times, saying:
Our children deserve so much better than this. Even with the progress we have made, one in three children in this country is still over weight or obese. One in three is expected to develop diabetes in his or her lifetime. We already spend an estimated $190 billion a year treating obesity-related conditions. Just think about what those numbers will look like in a decade or two if we don’t start solving this problem now.
The focus this year for Republicans is to roll back federally mandated nutritional requirements. The SNA, and its “industry sponsors” don’t like limits on sodium, nor requirements for fruits and vegetables, even though the Institute of Medicine has said all of these are improvements.
Take a look at other countries’ school lunches from around the world and try not to be appalled:
And, now take a look at the United States. Do you see a difference?