Republicans Push to Dismantle First Lady Michelle Obama’s Healthy Lunch Plan

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Republicans in Congress are pushing to allow schools to opt out of selecting Michelle Obamas healthy school lunches.


Reported by April Taylor

There are some recent developments with First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative, a program that focuses on encouraging exercise and healthy eating among children, and it has been a core part of her initiative during her time in the White House. Statistics are showing some progress has been made in reducing obesity. A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control show that the rate of obesity among low-income preschoolers in 19 states over a three year period from 2008 to 2011, and some experts believe the First Lady’s efforts helped contribute to the improvement.

Despite this progress, Republicans in the House of Representatives are attempting to push legislation that will allow some school systems to opt out of the 2010 federal mandates that require fresh fruits and vegetables, reduced sodium content, and increased whole grains in school lunches. The Republicans are backed by the food industry and a powerful lobbying group who are pushing for less healthy items, such as french fries, to be served in the lunches. Food company executives and leaders of the School Nutrition Association are supporting their efforts by citing the cost of the new rules and the fact that students are allegedly throwing away the healthier foods.

Frozen food industry representatives were already able to have the initial rules amended to allow pizza sauce to be counted as a vegetable. The School Nutrition Association (SNA) by such companies as Con-Agra, Domino’s Pizza, and Schwan Food Co., claims that their push to modify the mandate is not on behalf of the food industry but rather from cafeteria professionals who are saying that the mandates are not working or aren’t successful. In an ironic twist, prior SNA president Helen Phillips helped pass the 2010 mandate that the organization is now requesting be modified.

PTA President Otha Thorton wrote a letter to Congress and made the following statement that sums up the issue of healthier school lunches: “At a time when families are working hard to live healthy lives, school meals should be supporting families’ efforts, not working against them.”