House Republicans delayed a vote on the childhood nutrition bill yesterday by attaching amendments that would change the legislation and therefore kick it back to the Senate. That would probably kill it since there's little time left in the lame duck, and the House wants to pass it as is so that it can go straight to President Obama's desk instead. The bill provides a little more money for the school lunch program and makes it easier for students to enroll in free lunches. It also, importantly, sets new nutritional guidelines for school meals and bars junk food from schools.
It's the last part that has led some Republicans, mainly the Sarah Palin brand, to label the bill government overreach. She called it the "nanny state run amok" on her Twitter feed. But here's the deal; we're talking about a situation in which public schools already are feeding children and taking care of them for eight or more hours a day. They're actually serving as nannies, in a sense, in this instance. Unless we do away with school lunches entirely, it makes no sense to protest a change in the way we decided how to feed children. This is what's so ridiculous about the way this debate has played out. We're not introducing a new program that fundamentally alters the way children eat; we did that decades ago when we instituted the school lunch program in the first place. We did it then because children were starving, and that's a problem we haven't solved and in some cases have exacerbated because we succumbed to easy and cheap industrial food instead of paying attention to nutrition. This bill fixes a problem with a government program. It's not overreach; it's exactly what the government is supposed to do.
-- Monica Potts
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