Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mrs. Obama Is Going To Force Our Kids To Eat Healthy!

This is the Sausage Cheesecake you really want to send in your kid's lunchbox. But you can't, friends, because Michelle Obama won't let you! True? Or part of the blame-any-Obama-for-anything-even-if-it's-made-up disease that's sweeping the nation?

My friend and neighbor asked me Monday before last, “So, when is Michelle Obama’s term up so that I will be allowed to send whatever I want in my kids’ lunches and take cookies to their classrooms?”

I replied, “WTF are you talking about?”

She responded with a rant about how the new School Lunch Law changes require that she only send healthy non-obesity-causing foods to school in her daughter’s lunchbox when she chooses not to eat the cafeteria food, and that this is a ridiculous personal liberty infringement designed by the Obamas to take away parents’ rights in regard to what their kids can eat.

Well, I thought, if that is true, then she is correct. It would be horrible if the gubmint was telling families what foods to send from home for their children to eat at school. At the same time, I thought, that’s crazy, and I seriously doubt that the law says any such thing.

I informed my friend that I found that hard to believe and that maybe we should actually look up the new law and read it to see if she is right. I’m relatively sure she did not do so, since we’ve not had any follow-up discussion. Also, she is highly conservative and no fan of President Obama or any Democrat. Maybe she is just using this misinformation to give her an “I hate Obama” fix. But I actually DID read the damned thing here. I also read the 1966 Child Nutrition Act here, and the 2004 Richard B Russell National School Lunch Act here. I had to read these as well, at least the sections regarding nutrition at school and school wellness program policies, because the new publication does not include the whole of the two acts that it amends.

First, I would like to note that the majority of each act consists of extremely boring discussion of funding, finding qualified recipients for free lunches/breakfasts, reporting by schools, and reimbursement of schools by the gubmint. (yawn) I did it for YOU, people! I admit I skimmed those sections and only attacked the nutrition and wellness program information.

2004 language:
SEC. 9. 9–1 42 U.S.C. 1758 (a) 9–2 (1)(A) 9–3 Lunches served by schools participating in the school lunch program under this Act shall meet minimum nutritional requirements prescribed by the Secretary on the basis of tested nutritional research…

This language is not changed in the 2010 amendment. The 2004 version continues:
(a) IN GENERAL - Not later than the first day of the school year beginning after June 30, 2006,each local education agency participating in a program authorized by the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C.1751 et seq.) or the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C. 1771 et seq.) shall establish a local school wellness policy for schools under the local educational agency that, at a minimum—
1) Includes goals for nutrition education, physical activity and other school- based activities that are designed to promote student wellness in a manner that the local educational agency determines is appropriate;
2) Includes nutrition guidelines selected by the local educational agency for all foods available on each school campus under the local educational agency during the school day with the objectives of promoting student health and reducing childhood obesity;

Check it out! Obesity is already in there! Promoting student health is already in there! Goals for nutrition education and physical activity are already in there! A prescription for minimum nutritional requirements from the Secretary is already in there!

The change in the 2010 version is here (bolded):
(a) IN GENERAL.—The Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act is amended by inserting after section 9 (42 U.S.C. 1758) the following:
‘‘(a) IN GENERAL.—Each local educational agency participating in a program authorized by this Act or the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C. 1771 et seq.) shall establish a local school wellness policy for all schools under the jurisdiction of the local educational agency.
‘‘(b) GUIDELINES.—The Secretary shall promulgate regulations that provide the framework and guidelines for local educational agencies to establish local school wellness policies, including, at a minimum,—
‘‘(1) goals for nutrition promotion and education, physical
activity, and other school-based activities that promote student
‘‘(2) for all foods available on each school campus under the jurisdiction of the local educational agency during the school day, nutrition guidelines that—
‘‘(A) are consistent with sections 9 and 17 of this Act, and sections 4 and 10 of the Child Nutrition Act of 1966
(42 U.S.C. 1773, 1779); and
‘‘(B) promote student health and reduce childhood obesity;

So, I guess I can see where fear-mongers and anti-Obama individuals could interpret that to mean that OMG THE SECTIONS LISTED ARE FULL OF NUTRITION PROPAGANDA MADE UP BY MRS. OBAMA! ALL FOOD ON CAMPUS HAS TO FIT MRS. OBAMA’S IDEA OF HEALTHY FOOD, INCLUDING MY KID’S LUNCHBOX! However, without actually reading the sections listed above, we just can’t know that for sure, can we? Also, why Mrs. Obama? I guess this is her pet project, like Hillary Clinton’s was Health Care Reform, way back when, but the amendments have to come from the FDA and SSA and Secretary of Education and Secretary of Agriculture not to mention our CONGRESS, full of our elected officials. Not from the president’s wife, regardless of how smart she is or how important she thinks this is. She is acting as a spokesperson for improving our students’ nutritional health; she is not authorized to make law.

At any rate, I read the sections listed. I looked for any indication that Mrs. Obama was involved, but more importantly, I looked for anything to indicate that the new law applied to anything other than cafeteria food. Here’s a breakdown:

Section 9 of the School Lunch Act (SLA) is about a million pages long. Perhaps I exaggerate a bit, but believe me, it took a long while to slog through it. Section 8 is about one page, but we can’t be required to read THAT! Anyway, Section 9 says a bunch of stuff, but it covers these things: establishes nutritional requirements, including prohibiting using the act to avoid providing substitutes for those with special dietary needs, both medical or otherwise; establishes that the gubmint will train personnel when necessary; requires that milk be offered; requires that high school students not be forced to accept every food item offered, though they still have to pay full price if they choose to pass on the S.O.S. and only eat the canned pears that day; establishes eligibility requirements and methods to identify free or reduced price lunch recipients (OMG – 500 pages or so! Really! This is the majority of Section 9!); forbids segregation or public identification of free lunch recipients (I think this is nice!); requires certain nutritional guidelines, provided by the gubmint, to be met in foods SERVED FOR LUNCH OR BREAKFAST, but also forbids requiring schools to have meal nutrition analyzed (whut?); requires twice a year food safety inspections; encourages, but does not require purchases of local food items, and will help defray storage/facility costs for those who do.

That’s all. And it was enough dry reading for me! But in the public interest, I pressed on!

Section 17 is similar to Section 9, but addresses child-care (and adult-care, but that’s beyond the scope of my friend’s complaint). Our school offers before and after-school care for a fee, so this would apply here. This section addresses all the things listed in Section 9, just addressed towards child-care facilities and the specific issues of those facilities rather than schools; provides for commodity donations from the USDA to these facilities.

Section 4 of the Child Nutrition Act (CNA) establishes a school breakfast program under the same terms and regulations of the SLA.

Section 10 covers regulations: establishing nutritional standards as specified in the SLA; establishing that these standards apply to any food SOLD at school (note that this excludes items brought from home, including that cake you want to take into the classroom for your child’s birthday, as well as specifically excluding school sponsored fundraisers).

Now, to go back up to the changes, and the FEAR, the 2004 amendments stated that local school authorities would be required to establish a wellness policy that applies to all food available at school during the school day. The 2010 amendments requires that “all foods available on each school campus… during the school day...
are consistent with sections 9 and 17 of this Act, and sections 4 and 10 of the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C. 1773, 1779); and (B) promote student health and reduce childhood obesity."

That’s the change. In 2004, a school’s wellness policy had to apply to all food available on campus, and in 2010, all foods available on campus have to comply with those four sections of the two laws. But, as I’ve stated above, sections 9 and 17 of the SLA as well as sections 4 and 10 of the CNA say ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about food brought from home, and in fact, specifically address ONLY foods available for sale (or for free if the student qualifies) on campus, at the cafeteria or snack bar. As I wrote above, even fundraisers are exempt. So, technically, there’s nothing new here. Nutrition guidelines have changed, that is true. But those nutrition guidelines are ONLY APPLICABLE TO FOOD SOLD ON CAMPUS DURING THE SCHOOL DAY. Any other forced compliance would be against sections 9 and 17 of the SLA and sections 4 and 10 of the CNA.

So my friend can send those chocolate chip cookies to little Susie’s classroom (if the specific school or teacher doesn’t have a classroom policy against it, and my friend can certainly fight that if she chooses – it’s not coming from the federal government) where each child can have one except for little Bobby, who will sneak up and eat seven or eight when nobody’s looking. She can send those tubs of lard, bags of sugar, and caffeinated soft drinks in little Susie’s lunchbox if she chooses! So happiness all around, I hope!

Oh, yeah, Mrs. Obama's name is nowhere in there.

It took me a week to have time to really read all this stuff. Hope anyone who reads this finds it useful. Please forgive any formatting or grammar or spelling errors. I have read this over so many times I can’t even see them anymore.

I will add that I have no idea where my friend came up with her insane idea, but I suspect it’s being discussed at her fundamentalist church, at her school (Liberty University on-line), on her conservative news source networks, and among her conservative friends. In other words, I’m sure she’s not alone. If you read this, do your part by educating your friends and acquaintances in regard to this issue! The gubmint isn’t forcing you to feed your child healthy foods! But if your child buys or receives lunch at school, it will be healthy. Too bad, huh?

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