Republican Reps. Steve King of Iowa and Tim Huelskamp of Kansas continued their fight against the Agriculture Department’s recent public school meal regulation overhaul on Friday.
The congressmen have argued that the new regulations imposed by the USDA, as required by the Michelle Obama-backed Healthy and Hunger Free Kids Act, are overly restrictive for growing and active children, largely due to calorie caps on meals.
“The voluminous menu that’s good enough for the federal bureaucrats’ cafeteria should be good enough for our children’s school lunchroom,” Huelskamp said in a statement Friday. “If USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack thinks the federal government should dictate what local governments put on their school lunchroom menus, why isn’t he leading by example? Secretary Vilsack should impose his ‘Nutrition Nanny’ standards on the USDA buildings’ cafeteria menus before the USDA seizes control of lunchroom menus in 100,000 school districts.”
King and Huelskamp introduced legislation Friday that would repeal the regulation that imposed the meal mandates. Their “No Hungry Kids Act” would eliminate upper calorie restrictions on public school meals.
Outcry from parents and students about the new meal plans hit a fever pitch last September as children returned to school and were met with the new meal requirements. Students complained of being hungry and some pointed out that many of the healthy food options were simply ending up in trashcans. The issue received further national attention when school children in Kansas produced a viral parody video showing students tired and weakened from a lack of sustenance.
Still, with the country’s obesity epidemic, many have pointed out the potential benefits of more health-conscious menus.
“I think it’s smart to be pre-emptive and proactive at getting more nutrition fed into the kids,” Amos Johnson, a parent with students in the Lee Summit, Missouri school system, told the Lee’s Summit Journal last year. “I see that more as a multi-beneficial supporter for health and academic performance. I think that’s the thing I would look at. You should be healthier, and if you’re nourishing the brain and getting the fuel right, academic outcomes should maintain or improve.”