Sadly, Congress has chosen lobbyist money over kids’ health again, but at least the mainstream media is reporting it with headlines like “Pizza is a vegetable”.
Of course, we scoff when we hear such nonsense, but I can’t help but think of our homemade pizzas that are loaded with vegetables. Unfortunately, that is not what is served in schools across the country.
Earlier this year, the USDA issued new dietary guidelines for school lunches based upon recommendations by the Institute of Medicine from 2009. School districts responded with large districts, like LA Unified,showing how it could be done. Last month, my own little district passed a new board policy outlining healthier school meals, as well as supporting school gardens and farm-to-school programs.
Now, in an effort to weaken the new standards for school lunches, GOP Representatives want to classify pizza as a vegetable since there is tomato paste on the crust. The GOP feels schools are “overburdened” by the new regulations, but truly our representatives are caving into lobbyists.
Think Progress reports:
The changes had been requested by food companies that produce frozen pizzas, the salt industry and potato growers. Some conservatives in Congress have called the push for healthier foods an overreach, saying the government shouldn’t be telling children what to eat.
According to a bill summary released by Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee, these provisions are meant to “prevent overly burdensome and costly regulations.” What they will actually do is ensure that a steady flow of dollars continues toward certain favored food manufacturers, at the expense of children’s health.
By providing children with healthy food, the government is not telling children what to eat. They still have choices, but changing lunch menus to healthier choices is the point. School lunches are subsidized by the government. We are footing the bill for many school meals on the free and reduced lunch program with our tax dollars. I, for one, don’t want my money to be contributing to health problems like childhood obesity and diabetes because of lobbyists!
GOP Senators are also trying to protect French fries. The Daily Mail reports:
The Senate last month voted to block the potato limits in their version…
Nutrition advocate Margo Wootan of the Center for Science in the Public Interest said Congress’s proposed changes will keep schools from serving a wider array of vegetables.
Children already get enough pizza and potatoes, she says…
‘They are making sure that two of the biggest problems in the school lunch program, pizza and french fries, are untouched,’ she said.
Our children deserve healthy food at school. Politicians state education is a priority, yet they fail to see the connection between diet and learning. Our children deserve better.
Image credit: Some rights reserved by USDAgov