Given costs of obesity, healthier meals are a sound investment
The op-ed by former US senator John E. Sununu on school lunch misses the mark (“Federal dictates taste sour in school lunches”). The federally funded school lunch program, established in the 1940s to fight malnutrition, represents a critical investment in our children’s future.
Many have criticized Michelle Obama’s involvement in reforming school lunch, but let’s remember that it was a bipartisan Congress that passed legislation in 2010 to update standards. Congress recognized that, since taxpayers are already subsidizing school meals, they should be paying for meals that make our children healthier, not sicker. And they were right. Kids are already eating more fruits and vegetables and throwing away less food since the updated standards. (Now would be an appropriate time to tweet #thanksMichelleObama, minus the sarcasm.)
In 2010, the nation spent $210 billion treating obesity-related illness. With 30 percent of today’s children overweight or obese, tomorrow’s obesity-related health care costs are expected to reach $550 billion by 2030.
Sununu’s column suggests that we should continue to pay billions of unnecessary health care dollars just so kids can get their cheeseburgers and fries back. #NoThanksJohnSununu.
As Congress reauthorizes the school lunch law in 2015, let’s use this opportunity to further invest in more healthy food on kids’ lunch trays and save taxpayer dollars.
The writer is a food systems and health analyst for the food and environment program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.