In a recent speech, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) assailed new federal regulations that improve the nutritional standards of meals served in schools. He called the new standards, which come from the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, rationing:
“This is the nanny state personified,” the Republican from Kiron said during a noon speech to about 20 people at the Webster County Republican Party headquarters. [...]
He said parents have approached him and have said things like “My kids are starving in school. My kids are being rationed on calories.”
Though King says calories are being limited, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) actually expands student access to food by promoting breakfast programs and providing nation-wide funding to after-school programs that serve meals and snacks for at-risk kids and teenagers. Prior to the act, only 13 states and Washington, D.C., had funding for such programs. The healthy kids program improves nutritional standards for school lunches from “science-based standards” and recommendations from the Institute of Medicine. Such improvements are necessary. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood obesity has tripled in the last 30 years, and more than one-third of children and adolescents were obese in 2008.
It should come as no surprise that King has come out against healthy school lunch standards. King is a staunch defender of “pink slime,” a mixture of leftover beef trimmings and fat that is sprayed with ammonium hydroxide and used as filler for hamburger meat. Coincidentally, he received $45,000 in campaign contributions from the meat industry. Also, he has proudly demonized vegetarians in public.
King’s comments ignore many important facts regarding childhood health and the importance of good eating habits. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act attempts to correct many of the food-related problems in our school systems. To call its regulations “the nanny state personified” is irresponsible and intentionally mischaracterizes the bill’s goals.
– Greg Noth