May 27th, 2014
06:30 PM ET
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Editor's note: Donna Brazile, a CNN contributor and a Democratic strategist, is vice chairwoman for voter registration and participation at the Democratic National Committee. She is a nationally syndicated columnist, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and author of "Cooking With Grease: Stirring the Pots in America." She was manager for the Gore-Lieberman presidential campaign in 2000. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

It's been a long time. A very long time. But I cannot forget my first school lunch.
Call it free or call it charity, but it was a good meal that provided me, and so many others, with sustenance that made our school days more delightful. Our meals honored the traditions of the time - red beans and rice with smoked sausage, bread and perhaps dessert. And of course every Friday we had fish sticks, potato salad or French fries.

We've come a long way since then. Today, most public school children get perfectly balanced meals. School chefs use food selected to provide maximum nutrition, food that will enhance a student's well-being and learning abilities. Their standards come from federal nutrition experts in the U.S. Department of Agriculture who survey what important foods are missing from children's diets.

More than 90% of the nation's schools follow these criteria. Come September, guidelines for healthier snacks will be added. Still, for all our efforts, the White House reports that, because of a poor diet, one-third of our children are on the path to diabetes.

Regulations implementing the nutritional guidelines must be legislated by Congress. As it considers the Agriculture Appropriations Bill, Congress - especially House Republicans - will have to decide if it represents the interests of our children or of special food lobbyists.

For example, the Maryland-based School Nutrition Association has sought, and received, congressional support to grant a one-year waiver from the standards to schools that can demonstrate six months of financial loss. The group represents 55,000 school lunch workers and nutritionists. But The Washington Post quoted a health professional who said the group reflects its funders, who are mostly frozen food and agribusiness interests.

Read - GOP to first lady: Let them eat ... whatever

More on the politics of school lunch

Tom Colicchio talks childhood hunger
Hungry at the holidays
Cafeteria workers win right to eat expired food at their own risk

soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Thinking things through

    Agreed about the poor diet. Much of the subsidized foods are grains. Guess what: you want to fatten up livestock, you feed them... grain.

    Unfortunately, nutritious, non-starchy veggies don't get subsidies. THINK about it.

    May 29, 2014 at 10:22 pm |
  2. Nicklaus Millican

    It seems to me, regardless of funding, some major blame needs to be laid on the outlets reporting this stuff with such "grabby" headlines. The problem is that biochem is complex, and a single headline such as this gives the falsely opposite impression.
    Here is a link to a full report on fat loss that aims to present a holistic and complete perspective:

    May 28, 2014 at 3:39 pm |
  3. Lyzistrata

    Reblogged this on Marx and Bagels and commented:
    Thanks for the insight, Eatocracy. I definitely learned something I didn't already know.

    I need a font for sarcasm.

    May 28, 2014 at 9:39 am |
  4. Reality

    And poor leadership puts 100% of our nation at risk...

    May 27, 2014 at 9:38 pm |
    • Czech

      Politicizing a food blog is punishable by fiery scorn & ridicule. Poor leadership indeed. Good thing the Obama only gets one vote – just like the rest of us. That we can discuss this openly is what makes this nation great.

      May 29, 2014 at 7:20 am |
    • TNT

      Poor leadership by the parents might be the real problem. (outside of medical issues, of course)

      May 29, 2014 at 9:31 am |
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