Happy 2018, TLT’ers! I hope you had a lovely holiday break.
It’s been my recent New Year’s tradition to see which posts most interested you in the prior year, and in 2017, the topics were all pretty weighty: Trump’s child nutrition policies, worries about school food, a science scandal, even a natural disaster. (And I couldn’t believe which post garnered the #1 spot! 😕 )
Seeing this list made me longingly recall the old days on TLT, back when I was posting five days a week and there was a lot more frivolity around here. So consider that my New Year’s resolution: bring more fun in 2018!
Meanwhile, in reverse order, the top 10 most-read posts of 2017 were. . . .
I supported a fellow advocate for wanting better school meals but I wasn’t crazy about the alarmist and inaccurate language in his opinion piece. “If it was wrong for Fox News to stir up conservatives with misleading spin,” I wrote, “it’s no better for a health advocate to use the same false narrative for his own (admirable) ends.”
A D.C.-area school food advocate asked parents to stop packing lunches to boost the district’s school meal program, which makes total sense in principle. But as a mom who packed a daily lunch for her kids even while advocating for better school food, I discussed why parents might be unwilling to take this advice – and what we might do to change their minds.
In this post, I tried to sort out some inaccurate news accounts about Trump’s 2018 budget proposal and its effects on school meals and other federal child nutrition programs. But while the budget was not actually proposing cuts to those particular programs . . .
. . . it was still disheartening to read this leaked White House memo indicating that the Trump administration found it “inexplicable” that the prior administration had made childhood obesity a priority. We have yet to see how this alleged lack of commitment to the issue may play out.
If you asked me which post I thought was my most important in 2017, it would be this one. It seemed to me that partisans on both sides of the school food debate — those in favor of healthy school meals and those wanting to blow up Obama-era “Nanny State” meddling — were equally guilty of overstating the import of changes announced by Trump’s USDA. This was my attempt to cool down the rhetoric. (See also #10)
Hardly a week that goes by when I don’t have a moment of missing my friend and mentor Dana Woldow, so I was touched to see how many of you read my remembrance of her work and its impact on my own.
Readers were understandably worried about a Congressional bill that would have repealed all school meal nutrition standards, but — just like the last three times Congressman Steve King (R-IA) introduced such a bill — it had no effect. Other than garnering Rep. King some favorable right wing media coverage, of course.
Finally, some happy news! In this post, I gleefully announced that after 20 years of management by Aramark, Houston ISD had hired Betti Wiggins, the much-admired school food director, to head up our meal program.
A lot has since been written in the media about the shoddy data published by the Cornell Food & Brand Lab, headed by Dr. Brian Wansink. But this TTL post was actually the first to consider the implications of the emerging scandal for the Smarter Lunchrooms movement, on which the USDA has spent millions in taxpayer dollars. I think this story is far from over, so stay tuned for new developments in 2018.
People, I can’t believe this was the most-read post of 2017! It was such a ridiculous blip in the grand scheme of things. To recap, for those who’ve understandably forgotten this incident:
Back in January, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos opened a speech by proudly telling her audience that she was “perhaps the first person to tell Bernie Sanders to his face that there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” That expression simply means, “you can’t get something for nothing” and she was referring to Sanders’s proposal for tuition-free public college education.
But then the Twitterverse went nuts, believing DeVos had just leaked a nefarious plot to gut the National School Lunch Program. (!!!) Yet even though the Education Secretary has nothing to do with school meals, writers apparently took the “threat” seriously, publishing outraged articles like, “Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos Questions If Schools Should Provide Free Lunch,”and “Should Schools Provide Free Lunch? DeVos Could End Nutrition Program for Poor Kids.” So I dashed off this post saying, “Um, wait a sec . . .”
It’s a bit dispiriting that this bit of silliness was my most-read post of the year, though I guess it’s nice that my “fake news” corrective was actually read and shared?
Anyway, looking forward to a much better year ahead. And remember: more fun in 2018! 🙂
* FYI, I didn’t include in this list the actual 9th most-read post because it was an outlier that wasn’t about kids and food: it was An Update from Houston, my dispatch in the middle of Hurricane Harvey. In a year of so many other horrible events, this natural disaster has understandably receded in memory. But its after-effects continue to reverberate here in Houston, and you can still help out here.
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