School Lunch Protein Portions Size of “Meatball”


The following is a press release from the Montana Farm Bureau Federation:

Northern Ag Network Note:  CLICK HERE to be linked to the USDA information on the new school food regulations.

The Montana Farm Bureau Federation is taking exception to the new school food regulations coming down from the United States Department of Agriculture and the White House. According to the USDA, which released the rules in January 2012, the 'Healthy and Hunger Free Kids Act’ has new meal requirements that supposedly improve the health and nutrition of nearly 32 million kids that participate in school meal programs every school day.

However, the state’s largest agricultural organization says that isn’t so. “First Lady Michelle Obama and USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack believe that telling kids how to eat right hasn’t worked, so they will MAKE them eat right,” says MFBF Executive Vice President Jake Cummins. “In other words, federal bureaucrats are taking over the most important role of parents—feeding our children.  According to Mrs. Obama’s blog “Let’s Move!”, “We can’t just leave it to the parents,” the federal government is responsible for what our children eat at school. 

The result is new USDA nutrition guidelines for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) starting this school year.  The guidelines have always had minimum calorie levels but now they include maximum calorie levels as well. “The “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kid Act” subsidizes and regulates what children eat before school, at lunch, after school and during summer vacations in federally funded school-based feeding programs, and USDA has designed menus exhaustive in detail,” Cummins explains. “The school lunch ladies no longer have any say in what goes in kids’ lunches any more, nor do local school boards or anybody else at the local level, including a kid’s parents. That decision has been made for them and now we have a lot of kids who are more hungry than ever.”

Cummins is especially critical of the USDA’s take on protein. “First the USDA tried Meatless Monday, which didn’t fly. Now they are mandating limited meat consumption, stating that a portion of meat must not exceed two ounces. That’s the size of a meatball,” Cummins says incredulously. “Forcing vegetarianism on kids is inexcusable, especially coming from the agency that handles agricultural issues and works with ranchers.”

He points out that while some kids may lounge around the house, watching television and not burning many calories, many kids play sports or do manual labor after school. “Rural kids often don’t come home from school until after club meetings and sports practice, and then may put in several hours of work before they eat supper. A two-ounce piece of meat or a few nuts, one of USDA’s suggested protein substitute, aren’t going to give this kid the energy he needs.”

Cummins says that while eating your fruits and vegetables along with your meat is wise, for the federal government to dictate the maximum a kid can eat is ridiculous. “When did we decide in this country that Mrs. Obama and Mr. Vilsack know more about feeding our kids than us or the school lunch lady? That’s just wrong,” he concludes.

Source:  Montana Farm Bureau Federation

Posted by Haylie Shipp


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