The Washington Post reported yesterday that the conservative House Freedom Caucus has released a list of 232 federal rules, regulations and executive orders it hopes will be re-examined or revoked within the first 100 days of the Trump administration.
The list is wide-ranging, covering everything from overtime pay to climate change. But of particular interest to me were these three entries*:
I’m confused by the reference to the “Food and Drug Administration” in the second entry (it’s the Department of Agriculture that oversees child nutrition), but the intent of these lawmakers is clear: destroy all of the tremendous progress we’ve made over the last six years in improving our children’s school food environment, and apparently also the food served in federally funded daycare centers.
There are conflicting views as to whether such efforts will succeed. In another recent Washington Post article, several experts predicted that the popularity of school food reform and cultural shifts regarding obesity over the last eight years would serve as a check on Trump and the new Republican-controlled Congress, while others seemed less sure.
But my concern has always been the close association between the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act and a First Lady who so vigorously championed its passage and later defended it against critics. Even though the HHFKA had its origins in the George W. Bush administration, and even though its nutrition standards were recommended by the nonpartisan Institute of Medicine, it’s Michelle Obama – and, by extension, her husband – who’ve been the public faces of this effort.
That fact alone makes the issue a tempting target for conservatives. Note that the Freedom Caucus made a point of saying that the HHFKA’s rules are “hallmarks of the Obama administration” – and that school food regulations were the very first entry on the 23-page list (even accounting for the fact that “Agriculture” comes first in the alphabetical listing of departments).
The Child Nutrition Reauthorization is now in the hands of a Republican-controlled Congress, after a prior legislative session in which House Republicans already showed their enthusiasm for gutting child nutrition standards. With Politico recently reporting that House members now feel only more emboldened in this quest after the November election, I just can’t muster much optimism that the current healthy school food nutrition standards will remain intact.
I fervently hope I’m proven wrong.
* Other food-related regulations are in the Freedom Caucus’s cross-hairs as well, including those related to food safety, the new and improved Nutrition Facts labels, calorie labeling in vending machines and more.
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