Monday, September 17, 2012

Republican Congressman Pushes For Unlimited Calorie School Lunches

Last week, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) called calorie caps on school lunches “the nanny state personified.” This week, he is moving to eliminate the caps with his pleasantly-titled “No Hungry Kids Act,” H.R. 6418.

King’s bill is a direct response to the the Let’s Move! campaign, an initiative from First Lady Michelle Obama. Her effort prompted the Healthy and Hunger Free Kids Act, which set such calorie limits on school meals and opened up funding for physical fitness programs. But while some might see the move as a way to combat childhood obesity, King believes that it is denying kids sustenance:

“For the first time in history, the USDA has set a calorie limit on school lunches,” King said last week. “The goal of the school lunch program was — and is — to insure students receive enough nutrition to be healthy and to learn. 
“The misguided nanny state, as advanced by Michelle Obama’s ‘Healthy and Hunger Free Kids Act,’ was interpreted by Secretary [Tom] Vilsack to be a directive that, because some kids are overweight, he would put every child on a diet. Parents know that their kids deserve all of the healthy and nutritious food they want.“

The Congressman may believe that an unlimited amount of “healthy” foods may be beneficial to a kid, but he’s got his facts wrong. One can have too much of a good thing.

Perhaps King’s motivation in this area stems from his financial backing by “Big Food,” which has a vested interest in selling more school lunch supplies. King has not been similarly vocal in favor of nutrition assistance programs for low-income kids.

The exact wording of the original legislation limits lunch calorie counts for K-5 students to 650, while 6-8 grad students get 700 calories, and high school student’s meals can be up to 850 calories. Those numbers follow the suggestions of the Mayo Clinic.

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