Monday, November 7, 2011

The Latest in the Fight over Improving School Lunches

There's no denying that food is big business and that the ongoing attempts to improve our food system can lead to heated political brawls.

Proposed changes to the multi-billion dollar school-lunch program have led to a fight, for example, over the future of the potato in school cafeterias. Farm-state senators are battling to keep the potato's sacrosanct status, while others are hoping to reduce the intake of starchy foods.

Click here to read a story from last week's New York Times ("School Lunch Proposals Set Off a Dispute") that summarizes where we stand. Here are three important paragraphs:
"The proposed changes — the first in 15 years to the $11 billion school-lunch program — are meant to reduce rising childhood obesity, Agriculture Department officials say. Food companies including Coca-Cola, Del Monte Foods and the makers of frozen pizza and French fries have a huge stake in the new guidelines and many argue that it would raise the cost of meals and call for food that too many children just will not eat.

"With some nutrition experts rallying to the Obama administration’s side, the battle is shaping up as a contentious and complicated fight involving lawmakers from farm states and large low-income urban areas that rely on the program, which fed some 30 million children last year with free or subsidized meals. Food companies have spent more than $5.6 million so far lobbying against the proposed rules.

"A group of farm-state senators have already succeeded in blocking an Agriculture Department plan to limit the amount of starchy foods in school meals, and are now hoping to win a larger victory. The group includes Senator Mark Udall, a Colorado Democrat, and Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, who once worked picking potatoes and led the opposition to the new starch rules last month."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Concerning school and nutrition: One of the controversies I think I remember from when my kids were in high school was whether or not to allow companies like Coca-Cola sponsor school activities or services, like for example, news shows on current events or relevant topics that would be televised in classrooms, along with Coke commercials, of course. The vending machines are a whole "nuther" story. You can't even turn them off at night to save energy; they have to be cold and lit up when the first teacher or staff member show up in the morning, since soda may well be breakfast.