Some good news about food finally! The Federal government Department of Agriculture (U.S.D.A.) has issued new guidelines for 32 million kids-10% of the American population-and it's healthy! The new rules are the first changes to the program in 15 years, and come as part of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act.
The guidelines are imperfect (what isn’t?) but worth celebrating: this is the single most significant improvement the Obama administration has made in the realm of food. The rules will double the amount of fruits and vegetables served in schools, set limits on damaging trans fats and salt, increase the amount of whole grains served, make low-fat milk the norm and establish suitable ranges for daily caloric intake.[my emphasis]
And, incredibly, the U.S.D.A. moves will cost less than half of the agency’s original proposal. Even more stunning is that it’s doing this by scaling back on meat — abandoning requirements that schools serve meat or “meat alternatives” at breakfast. That is perhaps most commendable; teaching kids that nutritious meals don’t necessarily center on “protein” is one of the most important steps we can take in creating a sane diet for generations to come.
The U.S.D.A. stills makes too many concessions to the agriculture industry and that is because Big Agri hires powerful lobbyists but this is a big step in the right direction and should be seen as a major victory by food, health and environmental activists.
As should everyone else, because in food, as in most other arenas of our lives, corporate interests have long enjoyed disproportionate and increasing influence, and shifting that balance of power is among the biggest challenges facing Americans right now. Government can be an ally or an enemy in that fight, and the new guidelines are a welcome example of it using its weight to benefit most of us. The school lunch program is at the forefront of the uphill battle to feed kids well in this country, and — one way or the other — it will set an example for them five days a week, probably until that example spreads to society at large.
Don't think this was easy to do. They had to fight the meat industry all the way. This gives me hope that this Administration is looking out for our children's futures. By reducing meat consumption this also helps in our fight to reduce dangerous greenhouse gas emissions. A win-win for all of us.