Michelle Obama's school lunch rhetoric collides with reality

When first lady Michelle Obama told the nation's school children about the "exciting changes" ahead for them in their school cafeterias this year, it became clear that she has a serious disconnect with the reality of school lunchrooms, despite being the mother of two teenage girls. Perhaps Sidwell Friends School, which costs $35,000 a year per pupil, manages to produce food on an elevated budget which could on some planet be called "exciting."  But for the children of the 99 percenters, non-repulsive is about as good as school cafeterias get.  The first lady also spoke of another year of "learning, discovery, hard work and fun."

"And today I want to tell you about some exciting changes that you'll be seeing in your school cafeterias," she said.  "Starting this year, the talented people who cook the food at your school will be offering all kinds of healthy, delicious new choices.  Foods that are good for you and that taste good, too."

But now that school has actually started, the unreality of these statements is becoming obvious.  Jim McLaughlin of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports:

Following new federal guidelines, school districts nationwide have retooled their menus to meet new requirements to serve more whole grains, only low-fat or nonfat milk, daily helpings of both fruits and vegetables, and fewer sugary and salty items. And for the first time, federal funds for school lunches mandate age-aligned calorie maximums. The adjustments are part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 touted by Michelle Obama and use the updated Dietary Guidelines for Americans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The changes are hard to swallow for students like Blohm. On Monday, 70% of the 830 Mukwonago High students who normally buy lunch boycotted cafeteria food to protest what they see as an unfair "one size fits all thing." Middle schoolers in the district also boycotted their school lunches, with counts down nearly half Monday. They're not alone in their frustration; schools across the country are reporting students who are unhappy with the lunch offerings.

The sub sandwich line at Mukwonago High used to let students pile veggies on a six-inch French bread bun. Options now include a fist-sized whole wheat roll or multigrain wrap, and the once popular line is now mostly empty.

The nationwide experience is mirroring what happened years ago in Berkeley, when world-famous restaurateur Alice Waters gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Berkeley schools in order to offer healthy, organic fare to school children, only to see it go uneaten. It seems that progressives never learn.

However, Mrs. Obama is quite skilled at practicing do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do when it comes to eating. She has just revealed to Us magazine that:

The best thing about campaigning is meeting amazing and inspiring people. Another perk is getting to try specialties from around the country along the way. I've tried everything from local farmers' market produce in North Carolina to fried Twinkies in Iowa. (hat tip: Legal Insurrection)

As Andrew Malcolm of Investor's Business Daily notes:

Mrs. Obama, who served six different pies at her Thanksgiving meal last fall, is big on whole grains, for instance, low-fat milk, veggies, fruits and smaller portions with less salt and fats.

an earlier:

First Lady Michelle Obama, who has been unable to convince the Smoker-in-Chief to give up that dreadful habit, now has some health suggestions for other American families and for restaurant menus across the country.

The food rhetoric is of a piece with the rest of her husband's policies, built on an illusion about human nature -- that it is malleable -- and an even bigger illusion -- that progressives are so smart that they know how others should live, enforcing rules they themselves are unwilling to follow.

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