A Republican congressman from Iowa, Rep. Steve King, wants to eliminate the calorie caps that have been put on American school lunches. He calls the limits on calories on school lunches “the nanny state personified.” Right: because in a country where childhood obesity has more than tripled in the last 30 years, we should definitely be serving our children lunches of unlimited calories.
King is sponsoring a bill titled the “No Hungry Kids Act,” H.R. 6418., which is in direct opposition to Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative. He says:
“For the first time in history, the USDA has set a calorie limit on school lunches.The goal of the school lunch program was — and is — to insure students receive enough nutrition to be healthy and to learn. The misguided nanny state, as advanced by Michelle Obama’s ‘Healthy and Hunger Free Kids Act,’ was interpreted by Secretary [Tom] Vilsack to be a directive that, because some kids are overweight, he would put every child on a diet. Parents know that their kids deserve all of the healthy and nutritious food they want.“
And why is King suddenly so interested in making sure American kids can eat copious amounts of food when they’re in school? Oh right, it’s because he has financial ties to Big Food; he received $45,000 from the meat industry and then defended the noxious pink slime. He’s not the only Republican trying to influence what kids are served in school: other Big Food serving Republicans want to limit childrens’ access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
I feel pretty sure that the US government isn’t going to starve its children; putting calorie caps on school lunches doesn’t mean children are going to go hungry. I’m not informed enough to get into the nitty gritty details of this subject, but it seems like having calorie caps might encourage states and school systems to serve the most nutritious meals for the minimum of calories. To me, that seems like a good and positive development for both food policy and for the American school system.
If Steve King’s bill passes, it seems likely that the nutritional progress made in regards in school lunches in the last few years will backslide. It’s easy to interpret unlimited calorie lunches as a way to serve whatever’s easiest (and cheapest), regardless of nutrition. If a school isn’t held responsible to serve food within certain standards, those standards could very easily fall. And I’d hate to see that happen: after all, millions of children all over the United States rely on school lunches for an important nutritional boost.