Senator Hoeven Convinces Feds To Withdraw Calorie Limits From School Lunches


I’m pretty critical of Senator John Hoeven at times, but he deserves credit for going to bat against federal overreach on school lunches. New federal guidelines that, among others things, limited calories in school lunches rankled parents and school administrators across the nation. It was a one-size-fits-all policy for a nation full of students who have very different nutritional needs.

Now, thanks to the work of Senator Hoeven (who teamed up with Arkansas Democrat Mark Pryor), the calorie restriction is no more, though just for the 2012-2013 school year. So it’s a temporary reprieve, for now.

From a press release sent out by his office this afternoon:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator John Hoeven (R-N.D.) today said the U.S. Department of Agriculture has agreed to modify the new National School Lunch and Breakfast Program requirements in response to a bipartisan letter that Hoeven and Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) spearheaded in November requesting changes.

Hoeven and Pryor said the request was prompted by numerous correspondences from parents, school board members, superintendents, and other concerned community members expressing their frustration as the new rule is rolled out. The rule became effective in March and implementation began this fall with the new school year.

In response to the senators’ request, the USDA informed Hoeven in a letter late Friday that it has lifted its strict limitations on caloric intake of grains and starches, as well as protein, which will lend significantly more flexibility to schools and students, especially athletes. These changes are in place only for the 2012-2013 school year.

All schools across the country that participate in the federal school meals program will receive notice of this new change in the rules over the next few days.

It’s interesting that this issue comes up in the context of the “fiscal cliff” negotiations in Washington. Our friends on the left tell us that we need to give the government more money to fix our deficit and debt problems. Yet is there any more blatant evidence of a federal government that has bloated far beyond what this country needs (not to mention what it can afford) than an attempt to micromanage school lunch policy for the nation’s roughly 14,000 school districts and 100,000 public schools?

As if those sort of decisions couldn’t be made by local leaders, serving on local education boards and committees?

We need less federal government, and more local problem-solving.

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • Game

    This makes perfect sense. Who we want in charge of what students eat with federally funded meals is locally elected school board officials or a principal with a degree in social studies or something, not doctors and scientists. We all know that system has worked great, we don’t have any sort of an obesity program in this country.

    It is absolutely ridiculous to me that we are changing federal policy based on some kids, who have already had a healthy and nutritious meal, bitching because they are still hungry or because their tax payer subsidized meal did not include enough fat and sugar.

    I love how you think it is ok to attack a person on food stamps and buying things that are not healthy, but see no shame in a parent who 1) lacks the ability to teach their kids the importance of healthy eating 2) does not tell them to shut up and appreciate the fact that they have a chance to eat a healthy and calorie appropriate meal at school.

    • Lianne

      Yes, let’s remove all parental involvement in child-rearing.

      • tomorrowclear

        Plato did have the right idea, didn’t he?

        You’re another genius. Do you always respond with strawman arguments, or is this a recent development?

        • Rob

          It’s funny to read you, one of the most childish and insulting purple on this blog, whining about straw men.

        • Lianne

          I can throw in a bit of sarcasm if I deem it necessary. The problem has become epidemic. Kids came to school hungry because either they refused to eat what the parents gave them or their parents didn’t provide it. So the solution was for the schools to provide breakfast. Once that started, none of the parents needed to provide breakfast. so soon everyone was eating at school, teachers included. Teachers let their kids sleep an extra 1/2 hour because the entire family could get breakfast at school. Unintended consequence of government ‘fixing’ a problem Reading, writing, and arithmetic were once the purpose of school. Now, it includes feeding, dressing, babysitting, etc. The list is endless. As, I say, remove parents from all child rearing activities. The government knows best.
          Of course, I believe that those who don’t want the work involved in life, but only the fun, are the ones who are demanding the government to take care of every aspect of their life.

    • Rob

      Right. How did we ever survive before we had federal bureaucrats coming up with one dietary standard for every public school kid in America?

      We should stop letting people make their own decisions. Freedom is unhealthy.

      • Game

        Oh come on, providing kids a healthy, rather than unhealthy school lunch has nothing to do with Freedom. In both cases, and I know this drives conservatives nuts, the government is providing/subsidising food for children. That is established fact.

        I think that the meals provided should be healthy and provide the necessary amount of calories. I also think that as the point of school, is to educate, lunch time should be used as a time to teach kids about appropriate portions and a balanced meal.

        However, in the helicopter parent world you live in, kids should be given what ever they want when ever they want it, and science, fact, reason, and responsibility should be ignored.

        “How did we ever survive before we had federal bureaucrats coming up with one dietary standard for every public school kid in America?”

        Considering that heart disease, which is often caused by obesity, is the leading killer of Americans, the fact of the matter is we are doing a very good job of surviving under the status quo.

        • tomorrowclear

          An obesity epidemic and the resulting externalities that limit my freedom are, of course, not to be dealt with via the state. That would be pure, pinko communism. After all, it’s patently obvious that American parents are more than capable of raising their children, and I’m reminded of this every time I’m in a restaurant or on an airplane.

          • Game

            Enough with the stawman argument. School lunch have nothing to do with “freedom”. The schools already provide lunches. The debate is if they should be crappy unhealthy lunches with inappropriate portions, or healthy ones.
            I would love to hear somebody make a sound argument as to why kids should be given unhealthy amounts and types of food. Something other than “my kid is special and need more food than most kids” and “government is bad”

          • Rob

            I reject the premise that school lunches were all that unhealthy to begin with. The obesity problem, to the extent it is a problem and not another trumped up crisis used as an excuse for more government intervention, starts with the decisions individuals make.

            There is no policy solution for that short of treating the populace like a herd of farm animals.

          • Rob

            The externalities are an argument against collectivism, not limiting the choices I can make. But that’s what you liberals do. You insist on making everyone dependent on the government, then you use that add the excuse to limit our freedoms.

          • tony_o2

            Why should you pay attention to your child’s diet? That’s the schools job. Why should you pay attention to your child’s exercise? That’s the schools job. And when your child comes home crying that the other kids were teasing them for being fat, have the schools brainwash the kids into thinking that there is nothing wrong with being fat. You’re beautiful even though you’re grossly overweight…..

        • Rob

          Boy, you’ve sure gone off the deep end.

          Obviously, the government is going to provide lunch in government schools. What we’re taking about I’d the best way to administer that policy. My thought is that it’s pretty damn stupid to have the federal government involved in local policy as minor as school lunch.

          And I’m right.

          As for the freedom part, purple have to choose to be healthy. Its not policy that can simply be imposed. It won’t work. It never has. I know that’s anathema to someone who believe in the all powerful state, buy its the truth.

          • banjo kid

            Every one loves a healthy purple . Now that was funny Rob.

        • banjo kid

          Each person has different needs and the one size does not work . metabolism has much to do with it activity has even more to do with it . yes if all kids are going to sit down do nothing they can get by with less .

      • tomorrowclear

        Wait, your obesity and the obesity of our children isn’t due to the federal government? Well, that’s a first. I know the abject ignorance of Americans is, of course, due to federal bureaucrats and the teachers’ unions, but at least we have acknowledged that we cannot hang our obesity on the government.

        Rob, would you be a dear and recite Dean Wormer’s admonition to Bluto Blutarsky?

        • Rob

          I believe in free people being allowed to live their own lives, for good or ill. Better to attend to the problems of too much liberty than too small a degree of it.

    • jw-american

      How about the kid who’s parents (more likely parent) wastes food stamp money on crap food because they either don’t know how to cook good meals with simple staples or are just too damn lazy to prepare a hot meal for the child. At least the Hot Lunch program provided one decent meal for the day. at least ’till Mootchell stepped in with her program that only served to leave a already hungry child that much in need of a good meal. I remember kids that would load their plates as much as they possibly could, we knew they deal, we knew about their moms struggles let us solve these issues at the state and local level, the feds can worry ’bout 16Trillion dollar debt and Serin gas getting passed around the ME.

      • tomorrowclear

        Is English your second language, or are you just a dumb redneck?

        I’ll just bet you’re one of those who demands that immigrants “learn English,” aren’t you, Jethro?

        • JW-American

          So because you cannot argue with the subject matter of my post, you like many adolescents do on pop culture forums, resort to attacking my grammar/spelling/matamatics skills? (or is that skillz? )

          Tell me, what part of my post do you object to, why, and what your solution to the problem might be, then perhaps we can have a legit adult discussion or you can just STFU.

        • banjo kid

          Why not demand they learn English ? it is our language. do you know how much it costs to print up two signs instead of one ? Would you be willing to pay half the cost of that printing?

    • sbark

      I’d say if we were to really dig into obesity stats……it would show the bulk of it to be just another symptom of Liberalism.
      How many of the Obesity statistics are a result of the parents being on generational welfare dependency, and thus the kids on generational welfare dependency with the resulting low esteem, low pride, lowered self intiatives that comes with it.
      For those not on welfare, a good percentage is just genetics, A percentage will be enviroment of single parent families where the Playstation ends up being the other parent instead of getting outside hunting, sports or other active activites.
      ……and that single parent environment is yet another symptom of Liberalism in itself with its glorification of the Hollywood lifestyle, constant attacks on western religions, promiscutiy encouragement via school condoms, gay lifestyle etc etc.

      • banjo kid

        activity being the key word to end the debate .

  • headward

    you’d think KIL ND would be all over the feds on this issue.

  • spud

    Good deal talk to lots of kids who are in sports and best thing they have on this issue for many of them is mom or grandma is close by otherwise I do not have enough to eat. We want kids to eat healthy but to cut main proportion down is nonsense. These are issues that mom and dad deal with not the feds. Congratulations to the Bison the best “team” in North Dakota. Two more victories to a repeat title that is richly deserved.

    • Rob

      School lunch is not why kids are fat.

      • spud

        I was trying to emphasize the starving going on never said or meant school lunch was reason for overweight kids. Anyone who ever had school lunch when they grew up the food was much better than the crap they are fed now. Of course we had this dish called spanish rice. That was really really bad stuff.

        • Rob

          That comment wasn’t meant for you.

      • tomorrowclear

        Is this experience talking?

        • Rob

          I’m fat because of the decisions I make. I choose to eat too much and exercise too little.

          See how that works? I’m responsible for myself.

      • banjo kid

        You are right , it is binge eating and constant eating because they are bored , what to do about the bored is to get em a job .

  • Guest

    Yes it is government overreach. But for the most part, kids are overweight because they sit inside on their iPod, iPhone, wii, computer, ect. The list is very long.

    • Rob

      I agree with this.

    • Thresherman

      True as that may be, the government’s “one size fits all” manner of problem solving has once again resulted in a massive clusterf**k. Even worse, it does not take any great intellect to know that hunrgy kids do not learn. In fact, that was the reasoning behind the origin of school breakfast programs, to insure that kids we fed before beginning the school day. But because the first lady decides to get involved in the child obesity issue, learning suddenly takes second place to political pressure. Bureaucracies simply do not recognize cause and effect for they are restricted to the narrow view of their policy directive. People keep thinking that common sense will be applied by these agencies like would happen anywhere else, but in fact even though the people involved know what they are doing is wrong, they are constrained by policy from doing anything about it. This same reason is why grandmothers are searched as terrorists in airports as well as a program to feed kids leaves them hungery.
      One last thing to remember is that it cost us no small sum of money for these farces to play themselves out. Yet the left in this counrty keeps demanding that we surrender more and more control to a system that repeatedly shows itself to be incompetent.

    • WOOF

      Skunk Hollow Arkansas returns to the overwhelmingly popular,
      3 day a week, all you can eat, George H W Bush,
      all pork rind buffet.
      5 flavored Lard based dipping sauces provided,
      including Tobacco.

      • banjo kid

        Skunk Hollow isn’t that where Bill Clinton is from ? and his lovely LOL wife .

  • kevindf

    The obvious solution is obamachow; it’s only “fair.”

    • VocalYokel


      Makes it’s own gravy?

      • kevindf

        The gravy is extra; very extra.

        • two_amber_lamps

          ObamaChow gravy = water and pink slime?

          • banjo kid

            Stock up on ketchup also as it is classed as vegetable .

  • Mr Evilwrench

    Kids /= kids /= kids. My son just turned 17; he’s 6’1 and 240. He needs more food than the little stick children he goes to school with. And yes, I mean stick children. In our school district, there is no such thing as an obesity epidemic. Interestingly, the obesity epidemic seems to correspond with, shall we say… darkness. In any case, I’ve been forking out some serious cash to feed this kid. Not that he’s obese as such, he’s just… big.

    • game

      At 6’1, the most your son should weigh is about 191 pounds. I know this because when I was 17 I was about the same size and weight, and have fought obesity my whole life. The one thing I wish is that I would have left high school, by far the most aticve period of my life, knowing that my over eating was going to lead to a life time of trouble for me.

      If we are ever going to understand the reality behind obesity, we are going to have to change the way we think. People are not “big boned”, over eating is not a “healthy appetite”, and with a few rare exceptions, nobody is genetically predisposed to be big.

      So while your racist eyes may tell you that only people of a different color are fat, you are ignoring very well established scientific fact while you do that that.

      • Rob

        Right. What we really need is for the government to dictate our diets for us.

        • Guest

          Right. What we really need is for the government take no advocacy role whatsoever in making its citizens healthy and well. I mean, where in the Constitution does the federal government get the right to make laws for the general welfare? Derp.

          • Flamejob5

            Governments’ citizens?


            You believe they own you & me then?

          • Guest

            My apologies, I didn’t realize you didn’t consider yourself a citizen of the United States? Derp.

          • Flamejob5

            Sure i am.

            Although, It’s a total & complete full-fledged citizenry on my behalf all based upon a very, very limited affiliation prescribed by a contract called the Constitution which was created to protect people like me from you in forcing me to become even more affiliated.

          • Guest

            Then you admit it then. If possessive forms such as ‘of’ always indicate possession and never relationships/associations as you reason, then you just said you are owned by the US. Thank you for again demonstrating the failings of your education system and why people like you should never be allowed to determine what the country’s children are taught.

          • Flamejob5

            Except that I never implied total possession as you did, which is what i pointed out. I was addressing your original sarcastic statement about government “making us healthy” upon which the term “making” implied that you (not me) believe they in fact own & possess us and can virtually order us around at their whim using force.

            My position actually defended & supported the opposite – the idea of voluntary association with no/very limited power over our livelyhoods which was the original plan all along. Matter of fact, the Constituition that we wrote in order to severely limit our government barely even addresses the individual citizen whatsoever throughout it’s text.

            Begins to make sense after England and all that… huh?

            I think the the real question here is… do you believe in voluntary governmental-citizen association?

          • Guest

            Since you obviously don’t understand English syntax, the possessive form also can indicate a relationship other than ownership, such as being part of something, affiliation, performance, creation, etc.

            Thank you for demonstrating the failings of your education and the need for better national oversight of reading programs, however.

          • Flamejob5

            Oh… so basically just partial ownership then.

            A cozy, shared, Communal relationship.

            So that must mean then that i should be able to partially have a smoke inside a bar now then being me & our government just have a partial relationship. Right? I’m not totally owned by the government, it’s just an affiliation so i should still have partial say in what i can ingest into my body.

            I’ll smoke 62% of my cigarrette next time i’m at a bar.

          • Guest

            Are you seriously that f#45ing retarded to double down on your mistake? Possessive forms can indicate association. When a word has multiple meanings, it doesn’t take on a percentage of it’s other meanings, or are you really so retarded that you think ‘dove’ means 50% bird and 50% the past tense of dive? Thank you for again demonstrating the failings of your education and why people like you should never be allowed to determine what the country’s children are taught.

          • Onslaught1066

            hannitard, haven’t you figured out by now that the dictionary is not your friend?

            Besides which, the context of your demented diatribe does not include any definition other than ownership… as in slave of the state.

          • Guest

            Onshat1066, since you failed out of English obviously, the possessive form includes ownership, association, origin, creation, etc. I’ve included a helpful link to wikipedia so that you might learn from your many failures.

          • Onslaught1066

            Let’s add the word “context” to the vast number of English words with which you have no passing knowledge.

          • Flamejob5

            Well good then. After Obamacare fully kicks-in and i refuse to purchase healthcare from a corporate health organization, i’ll make sure to inform my tax agent to skip the section where i become financially sanctioned on my IRS tax form for non-compliance by not voluntarily choosing to purchase any insurance for me or my employees..

            I’ll just tell him i’m merely associated with the federal government, therefore like the gov, there is no motive to have to actually act.

          • sbark

            ObamaCare now trumps the dem’cat arse wipe that used to be called the Constitution………its called evolving

          • Flamejob5

            Government Laws are backed by force. You know… like what masters used on their slaves.

            I don’t think their masters “advocated” for them to labor on their behalf.

            Right “guest?”

        • sbark

          ……..if we dont, we become a burden to ObamaCare……

          I’m sure Mochelles next dietary project is the Senate, especially with the incoming fresh-persons’

          • Guest

            Thanks for your irrelevant, crackpot comments, shart. We appreciate how you highlight the difficulties facing the mentally unstable. The Supreme Court ruled Obamacare was constitutional and shart’s comments on a blog do nothing to change that fact.

    • tomorrowclear

      Your son is a fat ass. Deal with it, you dumb, inbred honky.

  • Roy_Bean

    Here we are at the top of another slippery slope. Step one was a public school system where kids could be properly indoctrinated with a socialist mindset. Step two is to tell these young adults that they don’t know how to feed their kids properly so we close the lunch break control what the kids can eat. The next step will be to declare a “tardy” epidemic and insist that all kids live at the school to be sure that they get up on time. Big Brother will only be satisfied when we drop off a 6 year old and pick them up when they graduate. The argument here isn’t about school lunch, it is about whether or not our grand kids will grow up in freedom or tyranny.

  • perfectlyaged

    Didn’t Michelle Obama have something to do with restrictions on what could be served to school children? I understand it has already cost the taxpayer millions of dollars and some of the children throw the food that has been being served to them in the trash.
    I know and I have seen it…I am a substitute teacher.

  • runstowin

    The problem here is not the Federal government, it is the parents who send their children to the public schools.

  • a1NannaGail2u

    I say we should STICK HIM AND MOOSHELL ON A “BREAD AND WATER” DIET. behind bars.

  • camsaure

    Why doesn’t hoeven do more to make it permanent? Or is he just another RINO who loves the progression to socialism, but finds it necessary to try and hide that fact? Most RINOs only care about slowing the progression slightly in hopes of making themselves look a bit better in the eyes of people whom actually care about the Constitution and our country.

  • mishap

    I just love the one size fits all mentality…not.

    Do they even acknowledge that children need a much different diet than adults?

    Or how about the fact that low cholesterol has been linked to autism in children?

    Aren’t these the same people cutting P.E. as non-essential?