Education Food

House GOP Targets School Menus

What’s the last serious issue House Republicans tackled? I honestly can’t recall myself, but I’m sure they would tell this is very serious.

House Republicans are moving to grant schools waivers to opt out of healthier school menus.

The 2012 rules require that most schools make more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fat-free meals available, and that they reduce salt and trans fat.

The new spending bill for the Agriculture Department requires the agency to waive nutrition requirements for school lunch programs when a “state that verifies a net loss from operating a food service program for a period of at least 6 months that begins on or after July 1, 2013.”

I understand that, in some cases, schools may spend more money on food than they take it, but my question is why is that seen as a major problem?

I don’t believe menu standards should be rolled back because some students would rather eat pizza and fries than whole wheat spaghetti and green beans. The school may lose money in the short term, but by granting a waiver we would be giving negotiating power to children that should not have it.

We should not tell children that if they refuse to buy a school lunch during the Spring, they can eat whatever they want in the Fall because the school was granted a waiver.

To be clear, this is not a widespread problem. The overwhelming majority of schools have had no problem adapting to the new standards. House Republicans are looking to cater to a small number of schools whom I suspect are more worried about dictations from the federal government than the health of their students or expenses.

Senate Democrats are not supportive of the waiver idea, meaning it may not be included in the language of any bill that reaches the president’s desk.

  • swift_4

    They do need some common sense application of the rules, though. For example, at our school, pizza is served with green beans. When was the last time you were eating pizza and thought, “A side order of green beans would be really great with this”?

    I watched thirty two lunch trays thrown away. All thirty two had a full order of green beans on them. The cafeteria workers could save a lot of time and energy just by opening up cans of green beans and dumping them in the garbage.

    We should be encouraging kids to eat healthy and make smart choices. Not requiring schools to put together ridiculous menu items.

    • Maike Hudson

      Who came up with that menu though? I doubt that they had direct orders from Michelle to serve green beans with pizza.

      • swift_4

        I believe the rule/law is that there has to be a separate portion of vegetables on every tray. So it could have been peas, or carrots, or any number of things that people don’t usually associate with pizza. I know some have pizza with broccoli or spinach on it. But they would have to be separate. Plus, the kids only every get peas, carrots, or beans. I’m guessing it’s because they’re cheap.

        I’ve been thinking the school should start a compost heap. Throw the food scraps in there, mix it up with some dirt. It would be the size of a bus within a month or two. Farmers could come mix it up with their tractors and put it down for fertizlizer for their beans, peas, and carrots. Then they could sell those to the schools. It’s the circle of liiiiiiiiiife…

  • fry1laurie

    “Waivers” of laws are big nowadays. The GOP won’t quit until they get waivers for everything, taxes, discrimination laws, 13th Amendment…

  • Christopher Foxx

    The new spending bill for the Agriculture Department requires the agency to waive nutrition requirements for school lunch programs when a “state that verifies a net loss from operating a food service program for a period of at least 6 months

    So the state is losing money providing healthy food to children. So what? Since when was a state supposed to be a profit making enterprise?

    The school buses operate at a loss. Hell, they don’t even try to offset the costs by charging kids a fare to ride. Let’s just cut the school buses entirely.

    And the lunchroom in the capitol. Is it making a profit, or is there a subsidy going on? Sounds like maybe we need the cut the lunch choices back to just pizza.

    Yes, there are tradeoffs but a budget should be looked at as a whole. You don’t expect every line item to be self-sufficient.

    And that’s not even touching on the “it’s far cheaper to pay for a healthy lunch than to pay for an unhealthy kid” reality.

  • Christopher Foxx

    To be clear, this is not a widespread problem

    Which is exactly why it’s so important to Republicans. Dealing with actual problems takes effort.

  • muselet

    The headline at The Hill is more telling than they realize:

    GOP takes on Michelle Obama

    This is about sticking a thumb in Michelle Obama’s eye, nothing more (not even, “When I wuz a kid, I had two lard sammiches and a Yoo-Hoo for lunch ever’ day, and it didn’t hurt me none!”).