Michelle O to preschool kids: No cookies for you!

Federal nutrition bureaucrats are on the rampage again, this time targeting preschool kids.  According to the Lansing State Journal, preschool children enrolled in a federal program that feeds millions of low-income children will not reimburse snacks like cookies anymore, and children under 1 will not get any more juice.

More vegetables and less sugar lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s proposals, developed with guidance from experts. Grain-based desserts, such as cookies and cakes, would no longer be reimbursable, and children younger than 1 would no longer be offered juice. Facilities wouldn’t be reimbursed when food is deep-fried on site, although prepackaged fried foods, such as chicken nuggets, could still be served, though recommendations urge that they be offered infrequently.

About one in eight low-income preschoolers is obese, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey of 12.1 million children enrolled in federally funded nutrition programs from 2008 to 2011, the latest data available.

The changes to the Child and Adult Care Food Program, which started in 1968, were called for by the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, passed in 2010 at the urging of First Lady Michelle Obama. The act’s more well-known requirement boosted the quantity of fruits, vegetables and whole grains in school meals. The program has an annual budget of about $3 billion, and the USDA focused on proposed requirements that wouldn’t boost costs because providers won’t be paid more.

“The USDA should get tremendous credit for attempting to make the changes cost-neutral,” said Kati Wagner, the president of the Wildwood Child and Adult Care Food Program Inc., which helps home-based child care providers in Colorado receive reimbursements. The school meals changes have been met with mixed results, with some school officials complaining kids are throwing away fruits and vegetables.

The solution, some experts say, is starting earlier, when children are more willing to try new things. Mary Beth Testa, a lobbyist for the Salt Lake City-based National Association for Family Child Care, said food choices people make in early childhood are “the building blocks for the healthy habits of their lifetime.”

Hat Tip: The American Mirror

I'm no expert, but in my experience, preschool kids are among the least adventurous eaters around.  And these days, if it isn't on TV, some kids won't even look at it.  It's all in how the new food is presented to children.  If parents eat it and make it appear enjoyable, many kids will probably follow suit.

But really, now, no cookies?  I can understand trying to deal with a growing obesity problem, but a cookie or two a day is not going to harm any child.  The key, as always, is moderation and balance.  A parent interested in raising a healthy child will pay close attention to what the child eats and try to provide food that tastes good and, where ever possible, healthy, too.  It doesn't help children if they reject the "healthy" food because they don't like the taste. 

When I was a kid, I hated canned beets – a veggie we had every week.  And every week, my mother made it clear that the 4 or 5 beets she put on my plate would have to be eaten if I wanted dessert.  Of course, I ate them.  That kind of incentive program is far better than simply denying kids the pleasures of eating sweets.

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