As part of her ongoing battle against childhood obesity, First Lady Michelle Obama finds herself battling house Republicans over a plan that would allow schools to temporarily drop the healthier federal school lunch program.
Meanwhile, for many schools the "Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act" has been about as popular as eating broccoli.
Since its implementation in 2012, more than 14-hundred schools nationwide have opted out of the program including several in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana.
The healthier standards established firm calorie counts. For elementary schools the limit is 500-calories at breakfast and 650 at lunch. For high schools, calories are capped at 600 at breakfast and 850 at lunch.
Greasy French fries have been replaced with things like green beans, bleached flour tortilla shells with the whole grain variety and tradition high-carb pasta with spaghetti squash. But, the new program has also led to a shocking rise in plate waste with kids throwing away copious amounts of fruits and vegetables.
Now, house republicans have included a waiver in the agriculture spending bill allowing schools all across the country, including here in the Tri-State, the option of getting out of the program for one year while other options are considered.
The First Lady believes that's a big mistake saying quote; "There are many, many changes that we can make, many things that we can do to make nutrition standards work for all schools, but rolling things back is not the answer."
It may not be the answer, but it's certainly the cheaper alternative, according to researchers at Cornell and Brigham Young Universities. After the launch of the healthier lunch program kids started tossing more than three and a half million dollars worth of food into cafeteria garbage cans on a daily basis.
Meanwhile, a non partisan General Accounting Office study found student participation falling in 42 states.
The First Lady has accused the GOP of playing politics with childhood obesity, but here's the bottom line: The healthier school lunch program costs taxpayers more than 10-billion dollars a year, pausing the program, even if only for a year, saves millions.
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