Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act

My Interview With USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon

by Bettina Elias Siegel on January 7, 2015

Back in November, I was contacted by a Public Affairs Specialist at USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services asking me if I’d like to conduct a 15-minute phone interview with USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon.  Given that Mr. Concannon’s job includes overseeing federal child nutrition programs, including the National School Lunch Program, I was very excited to take advantage […]


What the “CRomnibus” Spending Bill Means for School Food

by Bettina Elias Siegel on December 11, 2014

To fund the federal government and avoid a government shutdown, while also specially carving out funding for the Department of Homeland Security,* this week Congress is on track to pass the so-called “CRomnibus” — a combination of a continuing resolution and an omnibus spending bill.  (I thought I was the only person who, upon hearing “CRomnibus” could only […]



by Bettina Elias Siegel on November 24, 2014

You may have already heard about a new Twitter hashtag that’s making national news: disgruntled kids are taking photos of their unappetizing school lunches and sharing them on Twitter with a sarcastic #thanksmichelleobama.  A recent Buzz Feed post about the trend has already received an astonishing two million views. Some of the photos shared by students are indeed stomach-turning. […]


My Piece in the New York Times Motherlode Re: The School Food Wars

by Bettina Elias Siegel on October 8, 2014

This Sunday’s New York Times Magazine will feature a major story on school food, “How School Lunch Became the Latest Political Battleground,” and I was honored to be asked to interview the Times reporter, Nicholas Confessore, for a piece on today’s New York Times Motherlode. For those of you who regularly follow this blog and other sources of school food news, […]

{ 1 comment }

Houston ISD to Provide Universal (Free) Meals at 166 Schools

by Bettina Elias Siegel on August 18, 2014

I’m back from summer vacation in time to share some nice news:  Houston ISD, the seventh largest district in the country, has announced that it’s taking advantage of the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) to provide universal (free) school breakfast and lunch to every student at 166 of its schools, regardless of economic status, and without the need for meal applications or other paperwork.  These […]

{ 1 comment }

An Update on (What Else?) the School Lunch Fight

by Bettina Elias Siegel on June 12, 2014

Yesterday, the School Nutrition Association (SNA) held a conference call to defend its support of a legislative amendment which would allow struggling school districts to opt out of healthier school meal standards.  Such waivers would be for only one year but the amendment, if passed, is widely seen as a first step in chipping away permanently at the nutritional advances of the […]


How Did the School Nutrition Association Lose Its Way?

by Bettina Elias Siegel on June 3, 2014

How did the School Nutrition Association, the nation’s largest organization of school food professionals, go from being a vocal supporter of the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act to the moving force behind current efforts to gut that legislation? Even the First Lady finds this flip-fop perplexing, reportedly saying at a recent gathering of school nutrition leaders, “Help me understand why, […]


Last Friday, conservative Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker wrote an editorial praising the School Nutrition Association’s (SNA) current attempts to roll back the nutritional improvements of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA), derisively referring to the legislation as “the first lady’s well-intentioned but disastrous school nutrition program, otherwise known as the Dumpster Derby.” In this regard, Parker is […]


Yesterday the House Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal 2015 spending bill with controversial language, drafted by Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL), which would allow struggling schools to request a 12-month waiver from complying with healthier school food standards.  While that might sound innocuous, this waiver, which was strenuously opposed by the First Lady and school food advocates (including this […]


First Lady Defends Healthier School Food in NYT Op-Ed

by Bettina Elias Siegel on May 29, 2014

What can I say?  The Michelle O. love I expressed yesterday only deepens. . . . Here’s her piece in today’s New York Times making a strong case for staying the course on healthier school food. Keep in mind that in writing this kind of editorial (and in making her White House statement on Monday), the First Lady is engaging in an unusually […]

{ 1 comment }