The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

An alliance between The Lempert Report and The Center for Food Integrity

Legislating School Meals - Is This a Good Choice?

Legislating School Meals - Is This a Good Choice?

Shoppers and Trends

March 28, 2010

Nearly 17 million children rely on school lunch and breakfast, provided through the USDA's school nutrition program. Michelle Obama has taken a leadership role to address childhood obesity, and the White House has directed the USDA and FDA to undertake a series of initiatives in support of the First Lady's effort. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsak has discussed publicly a series of initiatives designed to address childhood obesity and the unhealthy foods kids eat when they are at school. Additionally, the USDA wants to double the number of schools on the federal school nutrition program.  

Now, I cannot think of one person that would object to ensuring that all of our children have access to healthy and nutritious meals. And, I applaud the First Lady for her leadership to combat childhood obesity. But there is a great deal of discussion in Congress regarding legislating what should be on our school menus and in the vending machines.  

Instead of legislating what food should or should not be provided in our schools, more effort and more resources should be provided toward education for the children and their parents. Moreover, individual responsibility is an important value for school kids to develop. Their health is their number one asset, and they should learn that at an early age. Learning to take care of one’s self at a very young age is a significant educational accomplishment. 

I have read article after article demonizing certain foods and beverages. Who should decide and then where does that lead? Will we start legislating what food is sold in restaurants, supermarkets and ultimately what you eat in your own home?