GOP & Michelle Obama’s Lunch Program: At War

Newser portrays this as an attack on Michelle Obama’s program when, in fact, Obama was the aggressor in taking away children’s food.

No Obama program is safe from House Republicans—even when the Obama in question is Michelle. A GOP agriculture and food spending released yesterday contains a provision that would take a bite out of the first lady’s stricter school lunch health standards, the AP reports. With many schools complaining about the program, Republicans want to allow them to opt out if they lose money on the healthier lunches over a six-month period.

The idea is getting a big push from the School Nutrition Association, the Washington Post reports, which gets substantial funding from food industry sources.

Michelle is fighting back by rallying health activists to lobby against the Republican proposal. The Secretary of Agriculture also spoke against it because, of course, he is one of the White House’s men.

For what it is worth, just like a stopped clock is right twice a day, sometimes even Michelle Obama can see a problem. American diets are probably not that healthy and school lunches probably don’t improve the average much.

But her “solution” is worse in several ways.

First, the mandatory guidelines starve students.

Recently the limitations may have been raised somewhat. But treating the health problems as the result of too many calories is always going to put student health and performance at risk. The bookworm and the football player both have different caloric needs, and they should be free of aching hunger during math or history.

Of course, Michelle Obama must treat the relationship between food and health as a matter of caloric intake because, otherwise, she would have to admit that some foods should not be eaten. For example, there are many different groups who have presented evidence that grains would best be avoided. As far as the Federal Government is concerned, that idea is heresy. One must always support “our farmers.” Other agricultural businesses must also be supported. So the only message the government can ever endorse is one that says that all foods are good as long as you don’t eat too much of them.

The Republican plan “is getting a big push from the School Nutrition Association, the Washington Post reports, which gets substantial funding from food industry sources.” Yes. And the food industry gets massive subsidies that guide it in the direction of using wheat and corn and especially high-fructose corn syrup. The government itself has produced an economy that encourages high carbohydrate, highly-processed meals, and now is finding that its lunch program can’t withstand the pressure that it has created.

But even if Michelle Obama only had great ideas about eating, her implementation would still be a failure. All she is doing is forcing the school to force some change on students. Those students have been taught how to eat at home. They have often lived on fast food. (“Fast food” is now what most people buy in grocery stores.) There is no way they are going to cooperate with these rules from the Federal government.

What Michelle needs to do is find a way to reach and educate parents and children themselves. She has to present a case that they will feel better and be healthier if they eat differently. Until she convinces them, she has no way to really change anything. The school lunches aren’t going to change until the students and the parents expect them to do so. Mandating “healthy” lunches, like the food labels she endorses, can only fail.

Recently, a friend of mine started drastically changing the way he buys food. He almost never walks into the middle of the grocery store but spends most of his money at the edges where the vegetables are. He told me that he thinks avocadoes are God’s pudding cups. He has had some frustrations because the non-processed food he eats will become over-ripe or rotten if he doesn’t consume them soon enough. He eats a lot of meat as well and is trying to learn how to make his own bone broth.

Why did he do this?

Right or wrong he did it because he decided that his normal eating was making him “sick” (or at least less well than he should be) and that eating vegetables (and some fruits) and meats was far better for him than the typical American diet. Now that he feels better than he ever remembers feeling (he tells me) he has every intention of sticking to it.

In other words: he had to decide. He had to believe he needed to make a change, decide to experiment on himself to see if the change was positive, and decide to stick to it.

Michelle Obama wants to treat not only the students, but even their parents, as her young children. She thinks she can just dictate what they eat and everything should work out.

That’s not the way it works.