I was puzzled at the myopic and cynical opinions expressed by the Editorial Board (Our Opinion, July 3) regarding the recent amendments from the USDA to the National School Lunch and Breakfast regulations governing healthy food choices at schools.
First, the U-B rails against the government as nanny state, while noting that the regulations pertain to schools receiving federal funds for free or reduced-meals to support child nutrition for low-income families. Should the USDA not be good stewards of our taxpayer dollars by ensuring that these funds are used to create an environment that promotes healthy eating?
Indeed, many organizations ranging from the American Academy of Pediatrics, to the American Heart Association and even the American Beverage Association quickly commended the USDA actions.
Second, the U-B’s insertion of the flippant phrase “at least Mary Poppins allowed a spoon full of sugar once in a while” expresses ignorance of the current level of daily consumption of added sugars. With a global average of more than 30 teaspoons of added sugars consumed per day per person, the chronic health effects and health-care costs of excess consumption of added sugars have serious adverse consequences for our communities in the U.S. and globally.
Third, the argument about new rules hurting the bottom line is another example of selective journalism. As the USDA notes in its new rules, some schools have seen revenue losses, but many schools with competitive food reforms have seen no loss, or even a gain in revenue. The outcome may depend more on how vested a school is in promoting healthy nutrition choices.
Finally, the U-B notes local school officials have a far better grasp of the situation in their schools. I suggest the U-B explore the current school nutrition situation with regard to competitive foods and to assess how well our local schools are putting into practice our local nutrition and physical fitness policies and standards, which went beyond the minimal federal requirements when enacted in 2006.
Effective partnerships between the community and schools have resulted in our school health centers, school gardens, farm-to-school programs and other efforts to improve student health and academic success. I encourage the U-B to use its energies to encourage our schools to continue to strive to promote the best environment for student learning and student health.