VIA| Bipartisan legislation released on Monday by the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee could finally bring a partial end to years of aggravation over what America’s hungry children must eat in school cafeterias.
If it becomes law, the five-year bill would make dramatic changes to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, the deeply unpopular, Michelle Obama-championed 2010 legislation that restricts school lunches in taxpayer-funded schools — but not the private school first children Malia and Sasha attend.
The main features of the bill are provisions that ease stringent rules requiring school districts to purchase whole grains and delay limits on sodium, reports the Associated Press.
Under current federal law, America’s public schools must use whole grains at least 80 percent of the time if they take federal school lunch money.
The problem — for years now — has been that students detest the resulting foods. For example, students across America don’t like whole grain pasta. And students in the Southwest don’t want to have anything to do with whole grain tortillas. Also, schools in the South have problems even procuring whole grain foods to cook. (RELATED: Kentucky Students To First Lady Michelle Obama: Your Food ‘Tastes Like Vomit’)
The bill also compels federal bureaucrats to figure out how to stop the massive waste that occurs on a daily basis in America when American kids chuck their fruits and vegetables in the trash. Under current law, cafeteria workers are required by law to foist soon-to-be-wasted fruits and vegetables on kids. The bill, negotiated by Sen. Debbie Stabenow , a Democrat from Michigan, and Pat Roberts , a Republican from Kansas, has the support of the School Nutrition Association, a professional organization representing about 55,000 school food service employees nationwide.
“In the absence of increased funding, this agreement eases operational challenges and provides school meal programs critical flexibility to help them plan healthy school meals that appeal to students,” School Nutrition Association president Jean Ronnei said, according to the Associated Press.
About a year ago, the School Nutrition Association called on Congress to make dramatic changes to the complex body of meal regulations implemented by the Department of Agriculture. The group’s “2015 Position Paper” criticized the complex legislation, under which participating schools take federal money but must stringently limit the amount of sugar, fat and sodium in every morsel of food sold at schools. Also, in what presumably falls outside the hunger-free aspect of the act, the Obama administration has instituted unforgiving calorie caps. (RELATED: America’s Lunch Ladies Call For An End To Michelle Obama’s School Lunch Tyranny)
That effort did not work, in no small part because Michelle Obama swore she would fight “until the bitter end” to maintain the school lunches America’s kids hate and won’t eat.
The White House has not spoken about the bill publicly, but is expected to offer support.
If the Senate bill passes in its present form, it will require the Agriculture Department to create new whole grain — and sodium — standards within 90 days. Thus, America’s public school children could stop being disgusted by their school lunches as soon as the upcoming fall if Congress acts swiftly.
Federal wellness guidelines have caused school systems around the country to ban cupcakes and candy sold for fundraisers. Federal intervention also put a stop to a velvety, cake-like, scrumptious delicacy glazed with a huge dollop of sugary pink icing that was arguably the best cafeteria cookie in the world.