By Carole on Sep 30, 2010
First lady Michelle Obama shares a very dangerous belief with her husband when it comes to transforming things: that it is most important to be seen as the driving force behind over-reaching changes no matter who they hurt. Toward that end, Mrs. Obama has pushed hard for what has euphemistically been called a child nutrition bill but is in fact a $4.5 billion attempt to implement a high-end solution to unhealthy school lunch programs by stealing future funding for food stamp programs.
The bill which was advertised as part of the first lady's 'Let's Move' campaign to fight childhood obesity would not remove popular foods like hamburgers from schools, but would make them healthier, using leaner meat or whole wheat buns. Vending machines could be stocked with less candy and fewer high-calorie drinks. Such new standards have unprecedented support from many of the nation's largest food and beverage companies. (source)
Of course the nation's largest food and beverage companies would jump on board. The new standards proposed in the bill would require the lion's share of that $4.5 billion to be spent on more expensive ingredients thereby driving up those companies' profits. The common sense approach of removing the "popular" foods from school lunch menus and replacing them with basic, healthier meals couldn't possibly be considered because even though that would bring up nutrition levels without increasing costs, it wouldn't cater to children who want to eat burgers, fries, pizza and fried chicken every day and the indulgent and/or lazy parents who allow them to do so.
As for modifying the contents of vending machines, here's a calorie and money saver - eliminate the vending machines. Generations of American children survived their school years quite well on only what was available in the cafeteria during their lunch periods supplemented by occasional stops at the water fountain. Constant snacking on and slurping of vending machine items not only adds to the poor nutrition and obesity problems, it's one more distraction from learning that students do not need.
Luckily Mrs. Obama's attempts to pressure lawmakers to pass this new legislation have not succeeded yet. Even normally reliable Obama allies such as labor unions, anti-poverty groups and anti-hunger groups have come out strongly against the use of food stamp dollars to pay for it. Over one hundred of the president's fellow Democrats in Congress sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) calling the move egregious. "It's just plain wrong," said Representative Jim McGovern (D-Massachusetts) who is a longtime advocate for childhood nutrition programs. "The way you are going to pay for a child nutrition bill is by dipping into people's food stamps? Give me a break."
So Mrs. Obama's attempts to glorify her own heavy-handed efforts by literally stealing food from the mouths of poor children have so far failed. Hopefully the major congressional power shift expected after the upcoming elections will open the door for a more realistic approach to the problem.
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