WASHINGTON – Former first lady Michelle Obama said adults should “stop asking kids how they feel about their food” and mothers should not let school districts serve their children “crap” food for lunch.
“How about we not let kids completely guide everything? How about we start there? How about we stop asking kids how they feel about their food because kids, my kids included, if they could eat pizza and French fries every day with ice cream on top and a soda, they would think they were happy – until they got sick. So that to me is one of the most ridiculous things we talk about in this movement is ‘the kids aren’t happy.’ Well, you know what? Kids don’t like math either. So what are we going to do? Stop teaching math?” Obama said during a discussion at the annual Partnership for a Healthier America Summit on Friday.
“Are we going to cut history out because there are kids who are bored with history? Look, we are the adults in the room. They look to us, so let’s just stop with that. I’m good if kids are mad at me, OK? My kids are mad at me at home all the time. I’m like, I’m not your friend. I’m your mother so you don’t have to like me,” she added.
The Department of Agriculture recently loosened its enforcement of the nutrition standards championed by the former first lady. Some public school officials applauded the move, reporting that many students had been throwing out the healthier options such as whole-grain biscuits that school districts were serving to meet the requirements.
“It is a little hard to provide food that the kids will like and still hit all the (nutrition standards) they’re asking you to,” Patrice Parr, food services director for Simi Valley Unified School District, said, according to the local newspaper. “We do taste tests. We involve the students to find out what they like. We talk to them, and we also ask the ladies that serve the food, especially if it’s a new menu item.”
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said, “If kids aren’t eating the food, and it’s ending up in the trash, they aren’t getting any nutrition, thus undermining the intent of the program.”
Groups such as the Alliance for a Healthier Generation voiced opposition to relaxing the nutrition standards.
“Time and time again, we have seen that schools can offer meals and snacks that are appealing to students while meeting nutrition standards – when they receive the appropriate training, tools and resources to meet the standards,” the group said in a statement.
Obama questioned why mothers would be OK with their children eating “crap” at school rather than food that meets the federal nutrition guidelines.
“We have a lot more work to do, for sure, but we’ve got to make sure we don’t let anybody take us back – because the question is, where are we going back to? This is where you really have to look at motives. I mean, you have to stop and think, why don’t you want our kids to have good food at school? What is wrong with you? And why is that a partisan issue? Why would that be political? What is going on? Now that’s up to moms,” Obama said.
“I am going to talk to moms. Moms, think about this. I don’t care what state you live in. Take me out of the equation – like me, don’t like me but think about why someone is OK with your kids eating crap. Why would you celebrate that? Why would you sit idly and be OK with that?” she added.
Obama continued, “Think about why, because here’s the secret: If somebody is doing that, they don’t care about your kid. And we need to demand everyone care deeply about our kids – that’s all we have, so we should be driving this.”
The Trump administration recently extended the deadline for enforcement of the calorie labeling regulations mandated under the Affordable Care Act. Under the rules, food establishments would have to provide other nutrition facts at the request of the consumer, including “calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, fiber, sugars, and protein.”
The moderator of the discussion, former White House chef in the Obama administration Sam Kass, mentioned the compliance delay for the labeling requirements.
“Keep families ignorant, that’s all I’m hearing: ‘You don’t need to know what’s in your food. You can’t handle that – just buy this. Be quiet. Spend your money,’” Obama said. “This is information that you should know.”
Mrs. Obama said consumers should be “highly insulted” by businesses not wanting to provide nutritional information or comply with the labeling requirements.
“Consumers out there, I don’t care where you’re from, what your party is: I would be highly insulted by that thought. You want to talk about nanny state and government intervention, well, you just buy the food and be quiet, you don’t need to know what’s in it – that’s essentially what a move like this is saying to you, Mom,” Obama said.
Obama had a direct message for the companies resisting the labeling requirements in the Affordable Care Act for the food they are selling.
“Why don’t you want to tell people what they are eating? They’re probably going to still buy it, you know. Just help us out. Help us, companies. Help us be good parents. Help us do the right thing, just help us, that’s all,” she said.
Actress Gabrielle Union and model Cindy Crawford also addressed the conference.