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article imageMichelle Obama fights GOP on school lunch rules

By Phyllis Smith Asinyanbi     Jul 6, 2014 in Politics
Washington D.c. - Michelle Obama, first lady of the United States, is usually apolitical. But she has come out fighting against a GOP House effort to weaken part of her anti-childhood obesity campaign.
After a White House event that featured elementary students preparing and eating a lunch using vegetables from the White House garden, she stated, "I'm going to fight until the bitter end to make sure that every kid in this country continues to have the best nutrition that they can have in our schools."
One of the first lady's platforms is elimination of childhood obesity, and she lobbied for and achieved the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Mandates include less sodium and sugar, along with more vegetables, fruits and whole grains in school lunches. The initiative is part of the Let's Move campaign aimed at encouraging youth to exercise.
Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) said the lunch standards are too restrictive and authored a House bill that would give school districts the opportunity to skip the requirements for one year. The Bill also funds the Agriculture Department for the coming year and was approved by a House panel. A full vote will take place after the July Fourth break.
More than 90 percent of school districts have implemented the new standards. According to a recent report from the Harvard School of Public Health, children are eating more fruits and vegetables and contrary to anecdotal evidence, less food is being wasted.
Obama wrote an op-ed, "The Campaign for Junk Food," stating the mandates for healthier foods are based on science. She also said Congress once stated, "the sauce on a slice of pizza should count as a vegetable in school lunches."
The School Nutrition Association, a food industry group representing cafeteria workers, initially backed the new lunch standards but has now turned against them.
In response to a New York Times article, "Nutrition Group Lobbies Against Healthier School Meals It Sought, Citing Cost," Patti Montague, CEO of the SNA, released a statement, which reads in part:
Already more than 1 million students are opting out of the school lunch program and spending their lunch money elsewhere ...
First, reinstate the initial requirement that 50 percent of grains offered for lunch and breakfast be whole grain rich, instead of pushing forward new mandates for 100% of whole grains. Second, maintain the reduced sodium levels introduced this month. Third, continue to offer, but not require, students to take a fruit or vegetable, as this often leads to food waste. And fourth, allow healthy food items that are permitted on the meal line to also be sold a la carte.
A Senate version of the bill does not include a one-year waiver, and the White House has threatened to veto the House bill.
More about Michelle obama, First lady, Gop, School lunches, Republicans
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