Embrace nutrition guidelines instead of refusing school lunch
Plattsburgh, N.Y., Press-Republican
Kids raised on white bread, fast food and sweets are not going to be thrilled by school lunches featuring whole wheat, salads and fruit. That's the crux of the reason some schools are now dropping out of the $11 billion National School Lunch Program.
It’s not a mass exodus, by any means, but some school districts are opting out of the program because, they say, kids aren't eating what it now requires. Officials in Catlin, Ill., told the Associated Press that they saw a 10 to 12 percent drop in lunch purchases, amounting to $30,000, last year.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines for school lunches have come in response to a childhood obesity epidemic and other health concerns. Comfort-food lunches that were served in school cafeterias for years — meatloaf with gravy, buttered corn, white rolls and frosted cake, among other staples — were loaded with calories, sodium and starches.
You can’t blame the schools. That food was served by families at home. Government programs supplied it, and it could be produced in mass quantities at a reasonable cost. But it wasn’t doing kids much good.
Consuming a better balance of nutrients, less sugar and sodium, reasonable portions and less processed food is healthy for anyone - especially children who are forming habits that will determine their longevity, not to mention our future health care costs. So, the government is wise in forcing schools to serve more fruits, vegetables, whole-grain foods and snacks like granola bars.
Schools that give up the lunch program take a big financial risk in turning down reimbursements of about 30 cents for each full-priced lunch, and $2.50 to $3 for each free or reduced-price lunch. Instead, schools and local health departments should continue to educate students and families about proper nutrition. Cafeteria workers should make the new foods as appealing as possible.
And parents must buy into the emphasis on nutrition. If they can encourage their children to eat these better foods at school - and stock their own cupboards with healthier choices - they will do everyone in their family a service.
Washington afflicted by sports mentality
Anderson, Ind., Herald-Bulletin
Box scores aren’t solely reserved for sporting events. As a U.S. debt default was averted last week and government reopened, the talk in Washington turned to what parties and politicians were the winners, and who were the losers.
Washington, you see, has this press box mentality where stats are kept not only on home runs but on assists and errors.
President Barack Obama and his White House won, in that his health care overhaul stayed intact and the debt ceiling was lifted. Speaker of the House John Boehner lost, as his Republican Party couldn’t halt Obamacare or the renegade tea party members who put their convictions above political deal-making. The tea party advocates didn’t win because they didn’t stop the Democrats.
Much like a football defensive line, the winner was the guy who didn't blink first. The cute sports analogies could go on, but Washington gamesmanship isn’t the kind that sells tickets or develops true fan bases.
Washington’s games hurt Americans — not government workers who will be paid for the 16 days they were out, but the tourists who wanted to go to a national park or the people who needed to file a critical form with the government. The shutdown hampered economic growth, not just for 16 days, but with widespread damage to America’s credibility around the world.
Within hours of resolving the crisis — to face us again in January — the “loser” said there were no winners. The winners toned down their victory, a bit, by attempting to draw the average Joe into the battle. For example, Obama said Americans were “fed up” with Washington. Over how many shutdowns have we heard that that?
Americans are fed up with the brinkmanship game that Washington seems to love. The rest of us are tired of an arena where politics focuses on winning and losing, with little concern for those who paid the politicians’ entry into the game.