House bill would let school lunches opt out of healthier meal standards
WASHINGTON — The House began to consider legislation on Wednesday that would allow some schools to opt out of healthier meal standards — a proposal that has drawn a veto threat from the White House.
The GOP spending bill on the House floor would allow schools to waive the school lunch and breakfast standards championed by first lady Michelle Obama for the next school year if they lost money on meal programs over a six-month period. The chamber is expected to have a final vote on the bill next week.
In a statement threatening a veto, the White House said this week that the bill would be “a major step backwards for the health of American children by undermining the effort to provide kids with more nutritious food.”
The school meal rules set by Congress and the Obama administration over the past several years require more fruits, vegetables and whole grains in the lunch line. There are limits on sodium, sugar and fat.
Some school nutrition directors have lobbied for a break, saying the rules have proved to be costly and restrictive. The schools pushing for changes say limits on sodium and requirements for more whole grains are particularly challenging, while some school officials say kids are throwing away fruits and vegetables they are required to take.
Republicans have said the standards are overreach.
Rep. Robert Aderholt of Alabama, the Republican author of the agriculture spending bill that includes the provision, said the rules were put in place too quickly and schools need more time to comply. On the House floor, he emphasized that the waivers are meant to be temporary.
“This is a real problem in many school districts across the country,” Aderholt said. “It only allows schools more time if they need it.”
Rep. Sam Farr of California, the top Democrat on the agriculture spending panel, called the provision a “cop-out.” He held a rally on Capitol Hill on Wednesday with parents, chefs and lawmakers to protest the opt-out language and is expected to offer an amendment to strip out the provision.
Obama has lobbied Congress to keep the standards, holding a White House event late last month with school nutrition directors who said the guidelines are working in their schools.
The Senate did not include the opt-out language in its version of the spending bill.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pot doctors in medical marijuana states push boundaries with marketing
- Disability claim waits grow alongside swelling caseloads for judges
- Federal $1.1 trillion spending bill loaded with policy deals
- Artists plan to rebuild Alaska art display damaged by tides
- Kids making oral history with StoryCorps holiday project
- Suspect in Colorado attack called loner who left few clues
- Nuclear crossroad: California reactors face uncertain future
- Foreign policy expert: Obama administration should create Syria safe areas
- Plasma burp seen in star’s destruction by black hole
- Chicago retail district targeted by protesters
- Prescription skin drug costs skyrocket