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School waivers see win, as panel moves in face of Michelle Obama pressure

- The Washington Times - Friday, May 30, 2014

In the battle between Michelle Obama's healthy eating program and lawmakers in Congress who want to grant opt-out waivers to schools that are losing money — the first lady just picked up a loss.

The House Appropriations Committee passed a waiver measure with a 29-22 vote, moving forward with a plan to grant those schools that can show they've lost money for six months in a row, from the first lady's cafeteria regulations, a way to opt-out, the New York Post reported.

The vote came after Mrs. Obama tried to sway public opinion and pressure lawmakers to drop their vote with a critical op-ed in The New York Times.

There, she insisted that her healthy-eating initiatives were working and that students across the nation were eating more fruits and vegetables.

"Today, we are seeing glimmers of progress," she penned. "Tens of millions of kids are getting better nutrition in school; families are thinking more carefully about food they eat, cook and buy; companies are rushing to create healthier products to meet the growing demand; and the obesity rate is finally beginning to fall from its peak among our youngest children."

She then slammed lawmakers who were resisting her plan.

"But unfortunately, we're now seeing attempts in Congress to undo so much of what we've accomplished on behalf of our children," she wrote, referencing cuts to the Women, Infants and Children program and a congressional bill that would open the doors to WIC recipients to purchase white potatoes.

"Now, there is nothing wrong with potatoes," she wrote. "The problem is that many women and children already consume enough potatoes and not enough of the nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables they need. That's why the Institute of Medicine ... has said that potatoes should not be part of the WIC program."

She then turned to her signature healthy-eating menu plan and faulted lawmakers for trying to intervene in that program, also.

"Unfortunately, this isn't an isolated occurrence. We're seeing the same kind of scenario unfold with our school lunch program. Back in 2010, Congress passed "The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act," which set higher nutritional standards for school lunches. ... Yet some members of the House of Representatives are now threatening to roll back these new standards and lower the quality of food our kids get in school," she wrote.

And Mrs. Obama concluded: "Our children deserve so much better than this. ... The bottom line is very simple: As parents, we always put our children's interests firsts. ... Our leaders in Washington should do the same." 

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