So moms and dads don’t want their efforts undermined when they send their kids off to school. Parents have a right to expect that their kids will get decent food in our schools. And we all have a right to expect that our hard-earned taxpayer dollars won’t be spent on junk food for our kids.
And the stakes just couldn’t be higher on this issue. Because one in three children in this country are still overweight or obese, and one in three are on track to develop diabetes in their lifetimes. Those are real statistics. And we currently spend $190 billion a year treating obesity-related conditions -- and just imagine what those numbers are going to look like in 10 or 20 years if we don’t start working on this problem now, if we don’t solve it today.
So the last thing that we can afford to do right now is play politics with our kids’ health, especially when we’re finally starting to see some progress on this issue. We’re starting to move the curve on this. And folks like all of you have worked so hard to meet these new standards, and now is not the time to roll back everything that we have worked for. Our kids deserve so much better than that. They really do.
And as parents, there is nothing that we would not do for our kids -- there is nothing. Not a thing. We always put our kids’ interests first. We wake up every morning and we go to bed every night thinking and worrying about the health and well-being of our kids. I know I do that with my kids, and I do it with every kid in this country.
And when we make decisions about our kids’ health, we want those decisions to be guided by doctors and nutritionists. We want decisions that rely on the best information based on sound science. And that’s what we expect from our leaders in Washington, as well.
So it is up to us to hold them accountable. It’s up to us to let them know that we’re going to follow what’s going on here in Washington, and we expect them to act based on our children’s best interests. And I know this work isn’t easy. Transforming the health of an entire generation is no small task. But we have to be willing to fight the hard fight now. This is what I tell myself. In 10 or 20 years, I don’t want to look back with regret and think that we gave up on our kids because we felt like this thing was too hard, or too expensive. We owe our kids way more than that.
TK: No matter the outcome of the appropriations committee process and the eventual status of school nutrition standards, the fresh produce industry should hold a gala “thank you” party for the first lady at some future date. She has earned any praise directed her way. The next first lady won’t embrace nutrition issues the way Michelle Obama has, that much is certain. For the fresh produce industry, more is the pity.