Friday, April 17, 2015
Hartzler: School lunches are eating away at education
From Obamacare to EPA regulations, this Administration continues to unilaterally impose bureaucratic, one-size-fits-all policies on all Americans. The latest target: school lunch. This week I met with the student council and school administrators at Jefferson Middle School in Columbia to discuss the recent challenges with the new school lunch reforms.
In 2010, the Child Nutrition Act was reauthorized, which sets policy for the National School Lunch Program. After two years of controversial proposed rules, the administration rolled out final regulations in 2012 that forced schools to adopt expensive, top down government mandates ranging from maximum sodium levels in all meals to requiring 100 percent of all cereal products to be whole grain rich.
As a parent and former nutritional science teacher, I want nothing more than for our kids to have access to healthy, affordable school lunches. However, these new USDA rules have led to 1.4 million fewer children choosing school lunch each day, a $1.2 billion increase in new food and labor costs, and $684 million in food waste each year. In the last two years, Columbia Public Schools alone have lost over $2 million in their school lunch program.
I believe we need to set forth common sense standards that allow schools the flexibility they need to provide healthy, appetizing meals to our kids at an affordable price. That is why I am an original co-sponsor of theReducing Federal Mandates on School Lunch Act, which would give schools the flexibility needed to provide nutritious lunches our kids will actually eat.
School lunches are an essential part of the day for today’s students, providing the energy students need to focus on their school work. I am committed to making sure we maintain program integrity while providing the opportunity for healthy, affordable meals for all students.