President Obama signed the Child Nutrition Act today. The law also known as The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which is part of Michelle Obama's initiative to end childhood obesity, moves to improve the quality of free meals in schools by providing schools with money to regularly update nutritional standards and also allow more children to qualify for those meals. "The new law also gives the USDA authority to set nutritional standards for all foods sold at schools in vending machines, lunch lines and school stores, sets goals for the amount of physical activity students should get and helps communities establish local farm-to-school networks and create school gardens," reports Athena Jones at NBC's First Read.
Though the new law has a fair amount of support in some quarters, not everyone appreciates the First Lady's efforts.
- A First Step Sarah Parsons at Change.org's Sustainable Foods blog praised the new law as a great initiative in the fight against childhood obesity. "We've got a long way to go to reduce childhood obesity in America and make kids healthier, but school lunch reform is an encouraging step in the right direction. Kudos to the thousands of organizations and activists that worked tirelessly to turn this bill into a law," writes Parsons.
- Remember, Healthy Food Is Expensive Amid his excitement about the Child Nutrition Act's signing, Save the Children's U.S. Programs Senior Vice President writer Mark Shriver is reminded of Sarah Palin's previous criticism of the anti-obesity initiative as an overstepping of the President's and Mrs. Obama's boundaries as politicians. Shriver counters Palin's argument in the Huffington Post today by pointing out that "there are millions of American families who live too far from full-service grocery stores that stock healthy fresh foods. These foods aren't just hard to find, they're often out of reach financially, forcing many struggling families to buy cheaper and nutritionally empty foods and drinks." He invites Palin to "come visit some of the struggling communities where we work. While there, she can learn about the twin childhood obesity and poverty crisis, what we're doing to help reverse them and how she and other ordinary Americans can help."
- Overweight People Deserve Respect, Too This morning, Politico's Mike Allen reported on Mrs. Obama's prepared remarks for today's signing. She planned to cite support from military leaders who say that such high instances of overweight youths who are ineligible for the military, make childhood obesity a national threat. Michelle Malkin was offended upon reading this statement and called for better treatment of overweight people:
Where's the respect for the rights of the gravitationally challenged who want to serve their country? How about a military program like "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" for obese people--"See Flab, Don't Blab" perhaps? Larger Americans are a put-upon bunch who are woefully disorganized when it comes to defending themselves against discrimination. Sure, there's an inherent heart disease and diabetes risk, but now they're almost as bad as terrorists? Heavy people unite! Somebody should do something fast before internment fat camps start sprouting up in North Dakota (for those who don’t have the wealth to afford the kind of place anti-capitalist Michael Moore checks himself into.
- Who Pays for the Better Lunches? In order to pay for the programs outlined in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, some schools may have to raise lunch prices. Grist writer Ed Bruske wonders if the cost increase might exclude low-income children from eating the healthy meals:
Critics argue that underpricing also helps explain why schools never seem to have enough money to improve the quality of the food they serve, and that low-income children should not be short-changed in order to support kids who come from wealthier homes, even though there is nothing in federal law to say that government subsidies can only be used to feed needy students. Food service professionals counter that lower prices attract more kids to the meal line, creating economies of scale and helping to lower the marginal cost of meals served in a program they contend is chronically underfunded.