Republicans insist the option to forgo the standards would be temporary, but the White House states it will veto the bill if it passes.
Consideration for a new Republican bill began on Wednesday that would allow schools to choose not to participate in healthy meal standards. As the legislation begins to advance in the House, the White House has already threatened to veto the bill should it pass.
The spending bill will allow schools exemption from meal standards if they lose money providing meals based on these standards for six consecutive months. These standards require that meals provided to children include more vegetables, fruits and grains while limiting fat, sugar and sodium intake. Over the course of the Obama administration, Michelle Obama has worked tirelessly to help bring these changes to schools nationwide in an attempt to provide daily nutrition for students, especially for children who depend on school lunches and breakfasts as their main source of food.
Republicans argue that the standards were too drastic and established too quickly for many schools to keep up. Food that is more nutritious raises the cost of food, for which the school is responsible. Some school officials back up these complaints, saying that reduced sodium and grains are the biggest burdens on a school’s meal budget. Other officials have complained that students throw many of the healthier items in the trash, further wasting the already limited resources of schools.
Republicans insist that allowing schools to forgo compliance with national standards would be a temporary measure meant to buy schools more time to adapt to the standards.
Critics of this part of the GOP spending legislation insist that the standards are too important to overlook. They are presenting arguments from lawmakers, chefs, and parents, aimed at getting the temporary exemption from national nutrition standards removed from the legislation.
Michelle Obama is also throwing her support behind the opposition of the bill. She is lobbying congress to maintain the standards by presenting her own evidence from school administrators who testify that the programs are working.