Speaking up Against Healthy Lunch Push Back

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First Lady Michelle Obama is taking a high-profile step toward healthier school lunches by taking a stand in Congress. The House Appropriations Committee is expected to approve language this week would grant waivers to school districts that claim to struggle complying with new healthy food requirements.

The First Lady has made it her mission to promote healthy lifestyles for children and families through her “Let’s Move” iniativitive, but some heavy hitters in the House of Representatives are being coaxed by those in the food industry to allow school districts to dodge the new mandates for healthier lunches and allow access to “convenience” foods that include higher amounts of sodium, fat and processed ingredients, more specifically makers of frozen pizzas and French fries. The new dietary standards that schools adhere to were created in via the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 that reduced sodium and increased whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables in school lunches.

I appreciate that the topic remains on the table, and that Michelle Obama isn’t backing down, but rather speaking out in Congress. Our country needs this push to steer away from processed foods to more balanced diets. Too many children in the country are overweight, obese and unhealthy. Unfortunately what I hear from moms who have kids in public schools is that school lunches still remain less than optimal on the healthy scale, and they are still packing lunches for their children. When pizza and pudding are so easily obtainable in the lunch line, of course kids are going to opt for that.

Another friend in Brooklyn has a child who is a picky eater and basically lives on cereal. He recently blogged about how free breakfasts are helping feed his child’s sugary carb cravings and not helping at all in he and his wife’s battle for better eating habits. This from him sums it up pretty well: “It would be one thing if they were feeding them something healthy. Maybe even make a lesson of it: this is an orange! It has this this and this in it, and here’s how it helps your body! But no: it’s just cereal, those crappy single-serving things where you peel off the top and pour the milk right in, like you get at a motel. Not exactly brain food.” So clearly there is much work to be done, but props to the First Lady for staying on top of her initiative and not backing down!

If you had your way, what would you like to see more and less of in school cafeterias?