Where would school nutrition standards be without First Lady Michelle Obama? The lady has certainly done more than her share to promote healthy eating in the last several years, and her remarks to school nutrition leaders yesterday were another example of her forceful presence. If Republicans are pushing back against school nutrition standards as a political statement against the Obama Administration, that is unfortunate. Here are some of the first lady’s remarks May 27:
Because of you and your colleagues across the country, today, tens of millions of children are eating healthier school meals that finally meet modern nutrition standards, by the way, that were developed by experts at the Institute of Medicine, and based on sound science.
And I know that this type of major transformation of our nation’s school lunch program hasn’t been easy. The truth is that when it came to the food being served in our schools, we had our work cut out for us. Our school lunch program costs taxpayers more than $10 billion a year. And before these new standards, a lot of that money was spent on meals that had more than the recommended amounts of salt, sugar and fat -- meals that weren’t meeting basic nutrition guidelines.
But today, thanks to the hard work of school chefs, food service workers across the country, 90 percent of schools are now meeting modern nutrition standards. That’s a good thing. And the USDA is working to provide greater flexibility and more assistance to help the remaining schools catch up.
So today, kids across America are eating more fruits and vegetables -- let’s hear it -- (applause) -- more low-fat dairy products and whole grains. And as a result of these changes, in many school districts -- which is important to note -- the number of students participating in the school lunch program has actually increased. And today, more importantly, parents across the country finally have some peace of mind about what their kids are eating during the school day.
But unfortunately, despite these successes, we’re now seeing efforts in Congress to roll back these new standards and undo the hard work that all of you, all of us have done on behalf of our kids. And this is unacceptable. It’s unacceptable to me not just as First Lady, but as a mother. I know that right now, because I have talked to so many parents, so many teachers, so many kids write me every day. And more families are realizing that we are facing a health crisis in this country. We’re now realizing that childhood obesity is a real issue. And so many families are looking for help now in their efforts to find new ways to feed their families balanced meals.