Kansas Republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp was unimpressed by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s snack solution to the recent uproar from hungry students and concerned parents over the new Michelle Obama-backed, restricted-calorie school meal menus.
“We have a problem with one government program so we have to create another,” Huelskamp told The Daily Caller disapprovingly in a Thursday afternoon interview. He noted that the Department of Agriculture has not offered details about what a snack program could look like.
Wednesday Vilsack responded to recent criticism that the new menu standards do not provide enough food for active students and leave them hungry, saying that the key is a snack. ABC News reported the administration is working with school districts to implement snack programs and encouraging parents to pack snacks for active students.
“We understand that change is difficult,” Vilsack told ABC News. “Some folks love it, some folks have had questions about it, but that’s to be expected when you’re dealing with 32 million children and you’re dealing with over a hundred thousand school districts.”
Students and parents across the country have been voicing their displeasure at the new standards, which reduce the amount of protein and carbohydrates school children are allowed to have, increase their veggie and fruit intake and put strict calorie caps on the meals. Critics say the meals are leaving kids without sufficient energy for after-school activities.
Huelskamp introduced legislation in mid-September with Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King to repeal the rule — implemented under the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010” — which created the regulations. The snack idea, to Huelskamp, is not a solution.
“This is just a perfect example of bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. — in this case, in the White House — actually trying to dictate what happens with our kids,” Huelskamp said. “You have 32 million kids on these lunches and it is a problem. And I’ll disagree with the first lady. I don’t think it’s our number one national security problem, it’s not obesity — obesity is 10, 15, 20 percent of the kids, depending where we’re at — but we’re going to put 100 percent of the kids on a diet. But not the kids of Mr. and Mrs. Obama.”
The Obamas’ daughters attend the elite Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C., which does not participate in the school lunch program.
The USDA did not respond to TheDC’s request for comment.