- The Washington Times - Monday, December 13, 2010

Arguing that both childhood hunger and obesity are threats to U.S. competitiveness, President Obama on Monday signed into law a bill to provide more and more-healthful lunches to schoolchildren.

Mr. Obama, joined by first lady Michelle Obama at a D.C. school, said the $4.5 billion measure will help the nation fight obesity among schoolchildren and ensure that U.S. students “have enough energy” to compete with their counterparts across the world.

“When our kids watch into the lunchroom, we want to make sure that they’re getting the healthy, balanced meals that they need,” Mr. Obama told students at Harriet Tubman Elementary School.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act expands federal subsidies to school meal programs by 6 cents per meal and gives the government more authority to regulate the types of food available to students in lunch lines as well as vending machines. The law also covers fundraisers and could limit bake sales and pizza parties that occur during school hours.

Mrs. Obama, who has made childhood obesity her marquee issue through her “Let’s Move” initiative, said obesity is not just an academic threat but a “national security threat as well.”

The first couple noted that the bill was a bipartisan effort and cited it as an example that the two parties still can come together on important legislation.

• Kara Rowland can be reached at krowland@washingtontimes.com.

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