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.