On Monday, former Republican governor Sonny Perdue was confirmed to be Secretary of Agriculture. By Friday, he had already announced he would be gutting Michelle Obama's work in fighting childhood obesity:
On Friday, the department announced its secretary, former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, will introduce an interim rule to provide "regulatory flexibility" for the National School Lunch Program at a Virginia elementary school on Monday, alongside Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.
"Regulatory flexibility" translates into "ignoring regulations we don't like." Ostensibly, this is about the "cost" of the program. In reality, this is just the latest attempt to erase the Obamas from the history books with the added bonus of hurting America's children. Because if you're going to be a sociopath, why not go all the way?
Michelle Obama put a lot of time and effort into getting kids to exercise and making sure that school lunches were actually healthy. I remember very clearly the school hamburgers I ate in high school resembling hockey pucks in both appearance and taste and they haven't improved a whole lot since then. This was low hanging fruit for a First Lady to tackle and she tackled it with gusto, getting salad bars into schools and replacing bland white bread with zero nutritional value with whole grains. It was simple, effective and, naturally, Republicans were absolutely against it.
Sara Palin famously made a complete ass of herself (more so than usual) by handing out cookies to kids and then delivering her usual word salad criticizing Michelle for wanting to make actual salads available to students. She called it a government takeover of school lunches, which is odd since school lunches are, by definition, already controlled by the government. But the blatantly ridiculous nature of the attack was irrelevant as long as it was against those meddling Obamas and now Republicans finally have the power to make kids unhealthy as a way of saying "Fuck you!" to the former First Lady.
People whose job it is to care about the well-being of other humans are baffled by the seemingly pointless move:
American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown said much progress had been made and 99 percent of schools were complying with the program."
Improving children's health should be a top priority for the USDA, and serving more nutritious foods in schools is a clear-cut way to accomplish this goal," Brown said. "Rather than altering the current path forward, we hope the agency focuses more on providing technical assistance that can help schools get across the finish line, if they haven't done so already.
Sadly, the top priority for every Republican has nothing to improving anything; it's all about reversing the progress made and doing so out of sheer spite. It's hard to wrap your head around it: What kind of person would deliberately make children less healthy just to get back at someone who did nothing but work to improve the live of America's youth? Schools were mandated to provide healthier choices but no one forces students to eat the salads they're offered; they can still eat the hockey puck and parents can still send them to school with a bag of Cheetos, a candy bar and a soda (an actual "lunch" I once watched a girl in my daughter's Kindergarten class eat).
This is not an ideological fight about government overreach, this is literally Republicans taking away healthy food because they can. The depravity of this mindset is astonishing, yet another sign of a political movement that is so fundamentally broken it's become a direct threat to the lives of our children.
There are 556 days left to the 2018 elections.
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