School Lunches Get Better, Junk Food Cut Out, Michelle Obama Happy

Healthier school lunches? Of course!

After being held up yesterday by House Republicans who objected to increasing the amount spent on school lunches by SIX CENTS, the first legislation expanding school lunch programs in thirty years was voted into law yesterday.  President Obama is expected to sign it quickly.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the new law would make 115,000 more children eligible for free or subsidized school lunches. It also provides an additional 29 million meals a year at after-school programs. In addition to increasing the budget for lunches, requiring more fruits and vegetable and whole grains, the bill eliminates junk food sold “a la carte or in vending machines,” and encourages schools to buy local food and plant school gardens. The bill was part of Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign to fight childhood obesity and she called its passage an “overwhelming” victory.  Of course, Sarah Palin will probably start a food fight over it.

Some, and not just the big mama grizzly, fault the bill as being too restrictive because it eliminates not only junk food sold regularly in school, but also limits school fundraisers.  According to ABC, Alexa Marrero, spokeswoman for House Education and Labor committee Republicans is quoted as saying, the new rules “wouldn’t just apply to school meals but things like bake sales that are also used as fundraisers, or concessions sold at sporting events.”

I don’t know how onerous the new legislation is.  There are times when I think in our zeal to create a healthier body politic our leaders can overreach. (I’m thinking of Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal that soda and sugary drinks be designated a non-food and so excluded from food stamp purchases.) But this new law feels like a win all around.

The bottom line is we get more and better meals for more kids, less junk food at school, more school gardens and local produce.

How about you?  Do you think government can be too restrictive when it comes to food choices?

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