What the Government Wants School Lunches to Look Like

Would you like some politics with your low-fat pudding?

National Journal
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Reena Flores and Marina Koren
May 28, 2014, 8:17 a.m.

The White House’s war on mys­tery meat has hit a snag.

This week, first lady Michelle Obama shot back at House Re­pub­lic­ans for res­ist­ing fed­er­al nu­tri­tion reg­u­la­tions for lunches at 100,000 pub­lic schools. “The last thing we can af­ford to do right now is play polit­ics with our kids’ health,” she said Wed­nes­day dur­ing a meet­ing with nu­tri­tion lead­ers.

House Re­pub­lic­ans are try­ing to roll back changes to school lunches in­tro­duced in 2012 through a pro­posed 2015 Ag­ri­cul­ture De­part­ment spend­ing bill. They’re look­ing for a one-year delay to the re­quire­ments, which push healthy in­gredi­ents in and junk food out, to give schools more time to com­ply. Here’s what those reg­u­la­tions look like and how they’re dif­fer­ent from the old school lunches:

To the dis­ap­point­ment of some young stu­dents, the stand­ards in­volve more of the good stuff, like fruits, ve­get­ables and whole grains, and less of the bad, such as salt-coated fries smothered in melted cheese.

“We all share the goal of ad­dress­ing child­hood obesity and serving health­i­er meals to our stu­dents, but the top-down, one-size-fits-all ap­proach by the White House on this is­sue simply isn’t work­ing,’ Rep. Rod­ney Dav­is, R-Ill., said in a state­ment to Politico‘s Morn­ing Ag­ri­cul­ture news­let­ter on Wed­nes­day.

In­deed, al­though 90 per­cent of schools already meet the 2012 nu­tri­tion stand­ards, some school of­fi­cials say the healthy re­quire­ments are “just too chal­len­ging.” To them, the White House says, “Tough.”