Yesterday, President Barack Obama singed the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act 2010 into law. The bill, part of a far reaching federal effort to combat childhood obesity, will improve the quality of school and child care meals, increase the number of available healthy meals, and increases the spending per meal by about 6 cents. It will also help schools use more fresh fruit, veggies and local foods by creating farm to school networks and school gardens.
“We can all agree that in the wealthiest nation on earth all children should have the basic nutrition they need to learn and grow and to pursue their dreams,” said Mrs. Obama. “Because in the end, nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our children. Nothing.”
As part of a ceremony celebrating the new law, the White House released a sample “Before & After” school lunch menu. The menu compares current meals against the kind of lunches that will exist under the new USDA nutritional guidelines.
Many Republicans, including the always outspoken Sarah Palin, have criticized the bill for being too expensive. The former Alaska governor fanned the flames of dissent by speaking out on possible limitations in how schools can fundraise, suggesting that bake sales would be off limits. Though the USDA has yet to set the new nutritional standards, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has been clear that banning bake sales is not the intent of USDA. (Read more if you’re concerned about the bake sale issue.)
Personally, I don’t understand how anyone can look at the proposed lunch changes and cry government overspending. Isn’t this—ensuring that our children are well fed—as fundamental as it gets? Isn’t this exactly what the government should be spending money on?
While I make no claims to understand the macro (micro?) economics of running an, um, country, I know that nothing is more important than the health of our children, for them and for the ripple effects that their well being has on our economy, health care system and environment.
What do you think?
Menu image via Obama Foodorama