The bill under consideration by our esteemed Congress is interesting to me. It's important to understand that not one piece of nutritional legislation passed in this country is without influence by special interest groups. We never get the real or whole truth, but the truth as spun by various lobby groups from meat to dairy and all the processed and unhealthful foods in between.
With that said, what this bill does...and does well...is bring attention to the fact that our kids are in serious trouble and that school lunches are appalling and need an overhaul so that our children are fed foods that will help them to thrive and achieve. This bill, in my opinion, doesn't go nearly far enough, with vague references to healthier options for kids and less processed foods, but it's a start. And we need to begin somewhere.
For me, the bill needs more 'teeth.' It needs to speak to real changes that can be made within school budgets. It needs to address the ideas that so many schools have put into action from the use of local produce to edible gardens in school yards. It needs to improve the quality of the foods being supplied to our underserved kids in the free meal programs. It's not enough to provide calories to the kids. Those calories need to be of high quality; breakfast can not be candy bars and sticky buns just because the items are free or subsidized.
We need to feed our children for success and we need to provide a vegetarian option in every school in the country. We need to introduce vegetables into every school lunch in a big way so that our kids develop an understanding and a good relationship with veggies that will carry them healthfully through their lives. And no, french fries and ketchup don't count. At this moment in time, HR.5504 is an improvement on the current status of school nutrition, but it's only a start. If our children are to thrive, this bill has to serve not as an achievement, but the beginning of an essential discussion. Our children's future depends on it.