Yesterday I told you that Texas’s newly elected Agriculture Commissioner chose, as his first act in office, to grant “amnesty” to classroom birthday cupcakes in our state.
As I explained in yesterday’s post, not only was this a head-scratcher given the many more pressing problems facing Texas’s farmers (starting with a serious water shortage and including a rampant feral hog population that’s destroying our ecosystems and crops), Commissioner Sid Miller’s publicity stunt didn’t even make sense legally: since 2005, the right of a parent or grandparent to bring any type of food, including cupcakes, to classroom parties and celebrations has actually been guaranteed by law under the so-called “Safe Cupcake Amendment.”
Nonetheless, Mr. Miller did everything he could at yesterday’s press conference to convey the impression that there had been some “repeal” of restrictive regulations barring such treats, again making the world safe for cupcakes.
But the “repeal” of which Mr. Miller speaks had nothing to do with birthday cupcakes. Rather, in response to the new federal Smart Snacks rules governing competitive foods and beverages (the snacks and drinks sold to kids during the school day, not the treats given to them in classrooms), our state repealed its own (and far less nutritionally stringent) rules which had been in place since 2004.
In other words, the “repeal” characterized by Mr. Miller as somehow courageously bucking restrictive regulations was actually a show of appropriate deference by our state to the federal government. In this regard, I can’t tell whether Mr. Miller and his advisors are being intentionally deceptive or are just plain ignorant. Either proposition ought to seriously trouble the citizens of Texas.
One aspect of our old nutrition policy which was not repealed was the prohibition on using deep fat fryers in our school cafeterias for preparing foods served in the reimbursable school breakfast or lunch, or sold in cafeteria snack bars. But at yesterdays’ press conference, Mr. Miller reportedly told those in attendance that he also plans to reinstate the use of deep fat fryers in Texas schools, as well as allowing schools to once again sell soda to students. Both of those practices have been banned in Texas since 2004, and the sale of deep fried food or soda to kids would directly run afoul of the federal regulations for school meals and competitive foods and beverages. But, of course, those federal rules are administered and enforced here in Texas by, yes, our Department of Agriculture.
Put simply, the state agency which, according to its own website, “striv[es] to put Texans on the path to wellness” is now being led by an individual who seems bizarrely determined to fatten up Texan children as quickly and efficiently as possible. Or, to use Mr. Miller’s own words from yesterday’s press conference: “ “We’ve been raising big, strapping, healthy young kids here in Texas for nearly 200 years. We don’t need Washington, D.C., telling us how to do it.”
People, it’s going to be a very long four years. . . .
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