Thinking of School Lunches and Federal Guidelines

Today, The New York Times reported the following:

“This week, the United States Department of Agriculture announced its final plans to lower nutrition standards for grains, flavored milks and sodium in school cafeterias that were part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 and that Michelle Obama, the former first lady, had advocated – “Trump Administration Rolls Back Obama-Era Rules for School Lunches.”

That report began with a quote from Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, the former Governor of Georgia.

“I wouldn’t be as big as I am today without chocolate milk,” Mr. Perdue told reporters in May 2017, while discussing his plan to relax Obama-eraschool lunch rules. It was one of his first days on the job.

It is reminiscent of the Reagan administration’s supposed classifying ketchup as a vegetable. From The Washington Post in 1981, Reagan’s first year in his first term:

Charging that the Agriculture Department “not only has egg on its face, but ketchup, too,” Budget Director David A. Stockman said yesterday he had ordered the withdrawal of proposed federal rules that would have listed ketchup and pickle relish as vegetables in school lunches.

He said the controversial guidelines, which also would have allowed the substitution of soybean cakes for hamburger and doughnuts for bread, were the result of a “bureaucratic goof.”

Stockman’s rough-edged remarks were an obvious effort at damage-control. The proposed redefinition of the school lunch has let the Democrats embarrass the administration as rarely before. But Stockman’s effort to stop one flap instantly started another. Agriculture Secretary John R. Block, whose department issued the regulation, was sorely miffed.

When diet related health problems become more and more of a burden on medical costs and insurance premiums, it is disheartening to see that many school children will not have food as nutritionally balanced as it could be because of bureaucracy and special interests.

If you want to see what can possibly happen in some school cafeterias, then check out what Jamie Oliver, The Naked Chef, presented in the following TED Talk:


And take notice of the part where he brings out a wheelbarrow of sugar cubes that is equivalent to some students’ intake of chocolate milk during elementary school.

Maybe Sonny Perdue should see that as well.