What editorial writers are saying about the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act

On Dec. 13, 2010, President Obama signed a measure that expands school breakfast and lunch programs while providing more nutritious foods for them.

Posted Jan. 3, 2011.

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Proponents say the law will improve children's health. But opponents contend that it's merely government dictating what people should eat -- especially because it allows schools to regulate vending machines and bake sales.

An imperfect, but helpful, step on child nutrition

The child-nutrition bill signed into law by President Obama is less than ideal. ... Almost half of its $4.5 billion cost over the next decade will come from a cut in the food-stamp program -- though Obama assured Democrats he would find a way to restore that funding. We would have preferred that Congress accompany the mandate for more healthful school lunches with more than a few extra pennies. Taking money from the well-documented waste in federal agricultural subsidies would have been preferable to raiding one anti-hunger program to fund another. ... The bill is not perfect, but it's a good step forward in a long-neglected area. San Francisco Chronicle, Dec. 15, 2010

Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act matters in Montana

Statistics indicate that many Montana families are struggling to provide for their children on incomes near or below poverty level. Small wonder that children's advocates and nutritionists celebrated ... when President Barack Obama signed legislation reauthorizing the Child Nutrition Act that was first enacted during the Johnson administration. The new Healthy Hunger-free Kids Act provides the first real increase in federal support for school lunches in 30 years -- 6 cents per meal above the inflation rate. ... Child health and nutrition experts see a close link between poverty and the epidemic of childhood obesity. Because the cheapest foods tend to be high in fat and low in nutrition, it is difficult to provide a good diet on tight budgets. Billings (Mont.) gazette, Dec. 16, 2010

Feds don't belong at the bake sale

[The act] will expand free and reduced meals -- breakfast, lunch and dinner -- for lower-income students and raise nutrition standards for all food served in schools, including in vending machines. All in the name of good health. And good policy. But, sadly, this bill goes further, regulating the frequency with which schools from coast to coast can hold bake sales or sell pizza, doughnuts, cookies or other sweet fare through fundraisers. No one disputes that such foods lack nutritional value. ... The question, though, is whether Congress should focus time and resources to micromanage an activity that ought to be left to parents, teachers, school administrators, school boards -- or even state legislatures. The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.), Dec. 9, 2010

It takes a vittle

The Obama administration is committed to bringing more government into the lives of Americans. First lady Michelle Obama grabbed the spotlight [Dec. 13] at the District's Harriet Tubman Elementary School to promote an anti-obesity initiative in service of this goal. ... To combat this supposed crisis, President Obama ... signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act into law, broadening the federal reach into cafeterias nationwide. The measure even adds dinner options to the school lunch program so some lucky tots will count on Uncle Sam for each and every meal. ... According to sample menus provided by the White House, dining will include exciting options such as broccoli, cauliflower, refried beans, grape tomatoes and whole-wheat cheese pizza. Putting a bland, flavorless bureaucracy in charge of the kitchen may actually be effective in thinning America's children -- by producing meals no child will want to eat. The Washington Times, Dec. 14, 2010

School lunches will get healthy menu makeover

While the bill's cheerleader, first lady Michelle Obama, might be overeager calling it "groundbreaking," it's definitely a positive step toward dishing up healthier offerings in the lunch line. Fighting childhood obesity takes more than throwing some salads on a lunch menu; the bill opens the discussion about giving favorite foods -- even the maligned cheeseburger or pizza -- a healthy makeover. As more children in need eat the majority of their daily intake through free or reduced lunches underwritten by the federal government, it's logical for parents and, frankly, taxpayers, to insist the meals have more nutritional value. Processed food is cheaper but it shortchanges children's health and expands their waistlines, and increases the likelihood for expensive, obesity-related health problems. The Northwestern (Oshkosh, Wis.), Dec. 7, 2010

Measure will benefit people, improve health

Even former presidential candidate and Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee spoke in favor of the act and its attention to the nutritional quality of school meals. Huckabee, an advocate of healthier eating habits, may prefer smaller government in many spheres, but he seems comfortable with the level of oversight offered by this bill. Justifiably so. The twin issues of childhood hunger and the obesity epidemic promise ruin for our health care system, no matter what shape reform takes in the coming years. The Times record (Fort Smith, Ark.), Dec. 15, 2010

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