May 27th, 2014
03:00 PM ET
9 years ago

Michelle Obama to Congress: 'This is unacceptable'

(CNN) - First Lady Michelle Obama argued Tuesday that it's "unacceptable" for House Republicans to consider making major changes to the 2010 child nutrition law - a hallmark of her "Let's Move" campaign against childhood obesity.

"The last thing we can afford to do right now is play politics with our kids' health," she said. "Now is not the time to roll back everything that we have worked for. Our kids deserve so much better than that."

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The first lady made her remarks at the White House before meeting with school leaders and experts on child nutrition.

Her comments represented a rare moment for the first lady, who stays far away from public disputes with Congress.

She urged attendees at the meeting to hold Washington accountable and "let them know that we're going to follow what's going on here."

The House Appropriations Committee announced last week it plans to let cash-strapped schools opt out of the nutrition regulations via waiver. The change would come through the 2015 agriculture spending bill.

Signed into law in 2010, the nutrition bill established new requirements for the country's free or reduced-price lunch program. More than 30 million children qualify for the federally subsidized meals.

New standards included a reduction in sodium and a requirement that each student choose one fruit or vegetable in order to get the meal for free.

The law increased the reimbursement rate for school lunches as a way to help offset the higher cost of including more produce products.

Critics, however, say schools are struggling to keep up with the new rules.

"We've experienced a lot more food waste," Julia Bauscher, president-elect of the School Nutrition Association, said Tuesday on CNN's "Newsroom."

"Students will pick up what they're supposed to have at the end of the line and then immediately throw it in the garbage," she said, describing trash cans full of oranges and apples.

Bauscher said they're not advocating for a return of junk food to the school lunch line-just looser requirements on vegetables and fruits.

"We just don't want them to have to take it if they don't intend to consume it," she added.

Saying that one in three kids are obese, the first lady emphasized that "folks in Washington should be on our side."

"Moms and dads don't want their efforts undermined when they send their kids off to school," she added.

Filed under: Congress • Michelle Obama
soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. Gurgyl

    -this nation needs to focus on Agriculture. Milk price is way too high. Even veggies prices are sky-rocketing. Worry on these first.

    May 27, 2014 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  2. smith

    Simple solution to this problem would be get rid of the junk food in our schools not waste fruits and veggies. Its really bad parenting that leads to kids becoming fat.

    May 27, 2014 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  3. Pippi

    If the First Lady wants to do more, she needs to educate the mothers in the community. It's easy to give food away, easy to throw it away, much harder to educate people who are repeating the same nutritional mistakes their mothers made, mistakes made easier by Dollar Menus at places like McDonald's.

    May 27, 2014 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    "Michelle Obama's food fight with Congress"

    God forbid you phrase it in a way that puts the blame where it belongs. No no...gotta make it sound like Michele Obama is at fault for deigning to try to get us to feed our children better. How dare she? Clearly, the GOP/Teatrolls are simply trying to save us from a world in which children get the kind of nourishment they need to fuel their intellectual development. God...what a disaster that could be...for the GOP/Teatrolls.

    These are, of course, the same GOP/Teatrolls in the House who just passed a farm bill that defunded summertime school lunch programs for inner city children but funded it for children in rural areas....and CNN is, of course, part of the MSM that is helping the GOP/Teatrolls whitewash that nonsense, hide it so nobody talks about it or understands what a terrific example of their racism it truly is and all part of the geographic war they're trying to wage, attempting to hand more and more control over the country to the few and rural versus the many and city-going...and yes, we know precisely what those distinctions carry with them.

    May 27, 2014 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  5. turd cruzin

    Something to help everyone, the government gop hates it already, nothing new here.

    May 27, 2014 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  6. acek

    Michelle please stay away from our kids. the boys are going hungry, especially the ones who have athletics after school. It is not enough food and it is insulting. Please just go away from school lunches.

    May 27, 2014 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  7. Sincere

    The problem is not the fruit, but the fact that fruit takes more time to eat than the students have. The orange has to be peeled and the apple is not sliced for children who have no front teeth. If the fruit was sliced and the sutdent given half, they may be more likely to eat it.

    May 27, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  8. cbp

    Wasting of food has been a long time problem in school cafeterias.way before Mrs. Obama began talking about healthy foods. School lunches may be very good and tasty but if thestudent doesn't like what he/she is served then the lunch will be thrown out.

    No one should be getting a free pass to opt out of the new guidelines. This is just one more example that Congress is very much out of touch with the citizens. Their mantra is just let the state or municipal government solve the problem. Congress is just pushing more and more onto the states which hand-off some of laws to the states and cities just to keep their bottom dollar low. Congress needs to step up to the plate and provide money for the school lunch programs.Nothing is more important than making sure our children are served nutritious meals during the school day. Perhaps members should eat a school lumch or two.

    May 27, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  9. saltydog77

    If you feel it necessary to follow H.Clinton then start by educating young parents about good nutrition and how to prepare it in the home. So that when that child goes to school they will already have a basis for good nutrition. You could also emphasise to young parents that education starts at home.

    May 27, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  10. Matty G

    Rather than allowing schools to opt out of providing the more healthy alternatives and making it a black and white, politically charged issue, maybe the opposition to the requirements should try coming up with a solution?? A novel concept in Washington, indeed, but rather than seek a political "win" by opting out of progress, what if a concerted effort was made to divert the food that the students do not want to eat from the trash can and into a separate bin for redistribution or that would be available to the students on the playground or other points in the school where they might be inclined to eat an apple as opposed to when they also have their pizza, mac and cheese and chocolate milk in front of them? Maybe the wasted food gets diverted to food kitchens or added to the backpacks that the kids that have hunger in the home take with them on the evenings and weekends? How about some sort of effort to rebrand fresh food so that might eventually be cool to eat the apple as opposed to it being cool to pick it up and throw it in the trash? How about, well, ANYTHING other than political brinksmanship?!?

    May 27, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  11. Peach

    Clearly, this program does not work--much like the rest of this administration.

    May 27, 2014 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  12. King Barry

    You must realize that this woman is not an elected official?

    May 27, 2014 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  13. Richard

    I am an educator and have seen more food thrown out in regards to Ms. Obama'a claim to fame of healthy school food. Advise for the First Lady, stay out of the education system. The only good thing about the Obamas, they can not be reelected.

    May 27, 2014 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  14. CP75126

    I don't recall Moochelle being elected to anything nor does it appear she has a degree or any other specialty in nutrition. Perhaps she and her posse should stick to those taxpayer funded shopping expeditions overseas she seems to crave.

    May 27, 2014 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    "maybe the opposition to the requirements should try coming up with a solution?? "

    Their opposition IS the solution in the GOP/Teatrolls' minds. To them, the problem is this: "ain't no n-– gonna tell ME what to do". How do you "solve" that? Refuse, obstruct and do everything possible to undermine and wreck it.

    May 27, 2014 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  16. FoodGuy

    I am a Food Service Director for a large School district and Mrs Obama has gone about her agenda totally wrong and pushed a meal profile that is being thrown away more than it is being eaten!! The problem is we are being told by a bunch of theroist in washington, who are solely drinking the Obama koolaide, what kids will eat but have more than likely never been in a school other than for a tour. I watch day in and day out good food, which cost real money, be thrown away, it's so absurd!! Who was the idiot who thought Kindergarten Students would eat a 1/2 cup of beans once a week, really. Oh that's right Sam Klass, the White House Chef?? How many hours has he spent in a K-12 setting watching what kids eat?? His motivation?? Just another fool drinking the big "O" koolaide! I'm as big a Chef as he is, a grad of the Culinary Insistute of America, Ex. Chef to some of the premier Hotels in New York, Boston, Denver & Seattle, as well as some of the largest University in the country and it took being in a school cafes everyday for year before I understood how & what kids like to eat!!
    99.9% of the Food Service Director's in this country want to provide the healtiest food possible, but we also cry at the vast amount of food being thrown away. You'll hear how the children are embracing the new foods and that is just a lie because if you don't say that forces can be applied that make you an outcast!! I was qouted in a local paper about how much waste we are dealing with and that the new guidelines have gone to far, then I was approached by a member of the local State DOE telling me I should watch what I say or you'll be viewed as a problem to the current agenda. In other words, I will be held to tougher audits and reviews which could have a large negative impact on my department.
    This meeting today at the White House is a joke because it will be a room full of people who have no idea what is is to feed children nor are not pushing a political agenda to stay in the good graces of the current administration!
    Bottom line, Mrs. Obama, go find something else to srew up because what your doing is failing the childern of this country not helping them!!!

    May 27, 2014 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  17. Hooper

    Amazing. The previous republican administration did all they could to ruin the entire nation, and there are people longing for the good old days. If they get their chance again, they'll make it so no one has a roof or food., except the very wealthy.

    May 27, 2014 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  18. Dkins

    Educating parents on the importance of nutrition needs to happen. It would be an awesome thing if that education started by setting a good example with the food they are served by the school. Let's pay politicians less and invest more in our children. ALL children.

    May 27, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  19. Sue

    You can't FORCE people, including kids to eat something they don't like. Not at home, not anywhere. Just ask a parent.

    May 27, 2014 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  20. Peace

    @ acek
    Do you think going to school to learn is only about learning how to count and write own names. It is also learning right from the beginning at young age, how to eat well and healthy.

    May 27, 2014 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  21. Keith ..... in Oregon

    It's quite simple. What a child eats for lunch is between the child and his/her parents. Let the government suggest or provide information about what might be healthier but the decision is best left to kids and their parents. If they make a bad choice it's still their choice.

    May 27, 2014 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  22. David

    Time to stop forcing the taxpayers to pay for junk "food" – chips, pop, snacks, etc., etc. for food stamp recipients. The real force behind this stuff qualifying is the junk "food" industry and their false front lobbying organizations pretending to be advocates for the poor.

    May 27, 2014 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  23. smith

    @Sniffit-32,000 victims of gun violence? Red Herring Alert! DOJ has it under 12,000 for gun related murders and 18,000 for gun related suicides. Suicide and murder are two totally different things.

    May 27, 2014 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  24. Malory Archer

    Clearly, this program does not work–much like the rest of this administration.


    Clearly, you're thinking of the previous occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with your "does not work" comment. As for the "program", it works as well as "Just Say No" or "Just Spell 'No'" or any of the other initiatives First Ladies have championed during their husbands' tenures.

    May 27, 2014 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  25. Malory Archer

    Simple solution to this problem would be get rid of the junk food in our schools not waste fruits and veggies. Its really bad parenting that leads to kids becoming fat.


    I agree. Unfortunately, the junk food in schools are the strings attached to such things as new scoreboards (prominently displaying the brand logo of course) and academic programs.

    May 27, 2014 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
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