There is an old saying that goes, “a new broom always sweeps clean.”
It isn’t unusual for someone in a new position to assume that everything the previous occupant did was inept and new policies are in order.
My employment journey through numerous positions at the newspaper taught me a lot of things. One of the most important lessons I learned is that you should never assume everything was being done wrong simply because you didn’t like the person you replaced.
After making that mistake on more than one occasion my new code of conduct became, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
President Trump has made no secret of his disdain and dislike of former President Barack Obama and his wife.
Anyone who can read is aware of his feelings.
With that being said, every plan and every program that was started under the Obama administration was not foolish or a waste of money. Just because the Obama’s endorsed a program does not automatically make it a bad one.
Cancelling or dismantling any program Obama started appears to be on Trump’s agenda.
The latest program to take a hit from Trump involves the school children in this country.
Michelle Obama was instrumental in passing the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.
It directed the USDA to lower salt, sugar and fat levels in school meals. It also promoted whole grains and required more fruits and vegetables to be served.
Approximately 30 million students are served by the National School Lunch Program.
The Act was a result of recommendations from a panel of experts whose responsibility was to set guidelines for healthy changes to school meals being served.
These recommendations included lowering salt intake, making sure kids were offered fruits and vegetables each day, increasing whole grains and setting portion sizes and calorie counts needed to maintain a healthy weight.
Under the Obama nutrition program, schools were to gradually cut current salt levels in foods served in half by 2022.
Last year the USDA, under the administration’s direction, allowed schools to substitute potatoes and other starchy vegetables for fruit with breakfast.
Schools were also allowed to stop following the guidelines to lower sodium content and waivers were given to schools to allow them to opt-out of serving whole-grain enriched foods. They were also permitted to serve chocolate and flavored milk.
The latest proposal from the USDA, released last week, sets new rules for the Food and Nutrition Service that will allow schools to cut the amount of vegetables and fruits required at lunch and breakfast, allowing them to sell more pizza, burgers and fries.
Neither of these changes are in the best interests of the children.
Kids get more than half their daily calories from school meals. Two-thirds of school children who eat at school qualify as low-income and are getting meals free or at reduced prices.
Allowing food that is saltier, fatter and more processed to be served to school children will definitely affect their health long term.
A diet that includes more processed foods has been associated with a higher rate of depression and anxiety. A poor diet can also increase the risks for behavioral and emotional problems. Long term studies have shown that more refined carbohydrate consumption can lead to diabetes and heart disease. High salt intake diets are associated with increased mortality.
If kids don’t get nutrient rich foods at school, they may not get them at all.
Obesity is a critical problem for millions of children.
Research suggests eating patterns established early will follow a child into adulthood.
The USDA’s own recent study revealed there was greater participation in school meal programs at schools with the highest healthy food standards.
The current administration is set to make budget cuts that include spending less on programs that feed America’s children and slashing billions from an education budget that needed increases instead of cuts.
The latest proposals by the USDA were entered into the Federal Register on January 23 and will be open for public comments for 90 days. We should encourage everyone who is concerned about the nutritional value of school meals to log on and let their opinions be known.
It’s possible that any attempt to stop these latest changes will fall on deaf ears.
Results of Trump’s last physical showed his weight at 243 pounds with a body mass index of 30.4, which health experts say makes him clinically obese.
Someone with those numbers may not be the best choice to dictate diet options for America’s children.