Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on School Nutrition

Jun 11, 2014

Recently school nutrition standards have come under criticism from some lawmakers.  The rules have required healthier food to be served in schools.  Alabama Representative Robert Aderholt chairs the Agricultural Appropriations Subcommittee.  He says the standards aren’t working for Alabama schools.  He wants the House to pass a waiver exempting certain schools that are having financial problems from the requirement.  US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says that would be a step backwards.

Tom Vilsack: “Look, we’re dealing with some serious concerns here.  In the state of Alabama, you’ve got 35 percent of your youngster who are obese or overweight.  You’ve got 25 percent of your youngsters who live in food insecure homes.  And those youngsters receive somewhere between a third and half of their calories during the school year IN schools.  It is important that we address this issue.”

First Lady Michelle Obama has also come out strongly opposed to any rollback of the standards.  She’s made children’s health one of her top priorities as First Lady.  One of the arguments against the standards is that kids are simply throwing out more food because they don’t want to be told what to eat or they just don’t like it.  Vilsack says a Harvard study found that wasn’t the case.

Vilsack: “At the end of the day 30 percent of ALL food is wasted.  So it’s not unusual to see some food wasted in schools.  But it is not any greater than it was at the passage of this law, and I think that’s a spurious claim that really is not valid.”

Click the audio above to hear the full interview with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.