Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act

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, […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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Dear Michelle . . . .

by Bettina Elias Siegel on May 28, 2014

Dear Michelle, Can I call you “Michelle?”  I know it’s a bit presumptuous, what with you being First Lady and all, but for the last six years you and I have shared a beautiful friendship, one that’s no less special for being entirely one-sided. We have so much in common, Michelle, it’s no wonder we’re one-way BFFs!  We’re both […]


A Recap of Yesterday’s School Food Developments

by Bettina Elias Siegel on May 21, 2014

Yesterday I told you that the School Nutrition Association (SNA), the nation’s largest group of school food professionals, is pushing Congress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to roll back key aspects of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.  Today, I can report that the SNA has had preliminary success in achieving some of these goals. One of the changes sought by […]


School Food Professionals vs. Kids: How Did It Come to This?

by Bettina Elias Siegel on May 20, 2014

When I walked into my first Houston ISD School Food Services Parent Advisory Committee meeting, I knew next to nothing about school food except that my district seemed to be doing a pretty poor job of preparing it. But in the intervening four years, in which I educated myself about the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), started this […]