Michelle Obama’s school lunch program may be heading for the dumpster

The new administration promised all sorts of “relief” for Americans. We heard about tax relief under Obamacare, regulatory relief for the energy industry and a number of other initiatives. But what about kids? It turns out that students may be getting some relief of their own in the form of an end to unappetizing, mush filled lunches which began showing up as part of the former First Lady’s healthy eating initiative. It’s an issue which was frequently treated as a joke on the campaign trail but many students were quite serious about it. Now, at long last, french fries may be coming back to school lunch counter near you. (CNN)

One of Michelle Obama’s signature accomplishments as first lady may be in jeopardy under the Trump administration.

A key lobbying group, the School Nutrition Association, released recommendations earlier this month to scale back federal nutrition standards she championed and were set under the Obama administration. The group is a national nonprofit professional organization representing over 57,000 members in the school food service industry, per its website.

The organization called for “practical flexibility under federal nutrition standards to prepare healthy, appealing meals,” specifically recommending that the US Department of Agriculture allow saltier foods that would have otherwise been allowed and cutting current whole grain requirements in half.

The effects would mean tastier, less healthy school lunches — more salt, less quinoa.

The hashtag #ThanksMichelleObama was making the rounds for a while and producing interesting reports such as this one.

This is my lunch. I’m in high school. #ThanksMichelleObama pic.twitter.com/02t4MScBIe

— Maya (@mayawuertz) November 17, 2014

All jokes aside, I think most of us were in agreement that everyone wanted the lunches being served in America’s schools to be nutritious and not overly loaded with sugar or chemicals. But at the same time, it still needed to resemble food in some way shape or form. As the report cited in the article mentions, there were “unintended consequences” in the form of reduced participation, food waste and higher costs. That brief bit of analysis can be broken down fairly easily. Reduced participation is simply a more polite way of saying that kids weren’t showing up to stand online and pay money for food which they found revolting. “Food waste” is just a nicer way to describe the trays which were being dumped in the trash after the kids realized that they were being given a pile of mush. The higher cost portion is something of a no-brainer because many of those “healthier alternatives” had to be shipped in from different sources and that was going to cost more.

In the end, what may have been a well-intentioned plan at the start resulted in fewer kids receiving meals and larger quantities of more expensive food going straight into the garbage. Wasn’t that rather predictable? I’m not saying that the meals should be composed entirely of cotton candy, but french fries, cheeseburgers and pizza are part of the normal diet for many teens outside of school and it’s not really a disaster to offer than the same food at the lunch counter from time to time. As long as there are some healthy options offered (particularly fruit, vegetables and decent quality meat) the real responsibility here lies with the parents of these kids. And that applies to pretty much everything else in the child rearing arena. It may “take a village” to raise a child but 90% of that heavy lift begins at home.

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