AgriTalk Radio host Mike Adams criticized First Lady Michelle Obama on Wednesday for pushing forward strict school nutrition regulations while ignoring calls for more flexibility from school nutrition professionals.
"More food winding up in the garbage can just so schools can say they met the standards to be in the school lunch program, that fails the kids and it doesn’t get us any closer to ending childhood obesity," Adams said on his nationally syndicated broadcast.
The House Appropriations Committee is expected this week to vote on a proposal to allow schools to opt out of the school nutrition guidelines set forth in the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. During a White House event on school nutrition on Tuesday, Mrs. Obama called the push by House Republicans to loosen the standards "unacceptable."
The School Nutrition Association has supported efforts to reform school lunch guidelines, but has called on the Obama administration to provide more flexibility. "SNA does not want to gut the nutrition standards – we support many of the requirements. Our request for flexibility under the new standards does not come from industry or politics; it comes from thousands of school cafeteria professionals who have shown how these overly prescriptive regulations are hindering their effort to get students to eat healthy school meals," SNA President Leah Schmidt said in a released statement.
"I find it interesting that the administration does not want to listen to the school nutrition association," Adams said. "In fact, the executive director for the First Lady’s ‘Let’s Move’ campaign criticized SNA for its campaign to roll back requirements, saying that the group has a long list of industry members with representatives from groups like PepsiCo, ConAgra, General Mills and those types of businesses. Instead of trying to get SNA on board, which is to me the first group you should get on your side in this campaign, basically they are trying to discredit the School Nutrition Association, which makes no sense to me at all."
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Meanwhile, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a press conference Wednesday that USDA has been providing all the flexibility that is needed, and that a full rollback of the mandate is not necessary.
"When flexibility was warranted, USDA has been willing to work with school districts and school nutrition experts to provide that flexibility," Vilsack said. "But what is not appropriate, and what is ill-advised, is to provide some sort of waiver process which would open up the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act to a reversal back in time, taking a step back instead of a step forward."
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