Readers React
Readers React

Washington's failure at fixing school lunches

To the editor: If only politicians knew as much about nutrition as they did about fundraising. The food fight is too political and based more on expected campaign contributions from the giant food suppliers than on science. ("'Lunch lady' lobby joins GOP to fight Obama's school lunch rules," April 22)

The obesity epidemic starts and ends with processed foods, from juices to bread to pasta to chips to any packaged item. Whole wheat does not ordain any health advantage to a processed food. The fiber it offers is insoluble and not the healthful, soluble fiber from fresh fruits and vegetables that our gut utilizes in maintaining the healthy bacteria and regularity we all need.

Michelle Obama, who supports the use of whole-grain pasta, missed the boat on food science.

It is time for our leaders to declare victory in the federal lunch program and prepare to tighten the students' belts. Maybe there should be a lunch voucher program based on the body mass index of the student.

Jerome P. Helman, MD, Venice

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To the editor: This article fails to mention that schools in California and nationwide are struggling with higher costs and a lack of funding to meet new school meal standards.

In Santa Clarita Valley, we are committed to serving nutritious school meals that students consume and enjoy. We even hired a trained chef to help improve menus, making our nutritious dishes more enticing. Nonetheless, our program is losing money under the new rules, primarily because of rising costs. Our produce budget alone is up 10%.

The federal government says schools will absorb $1.2 billion in new food and labor costs this year under the regulations. That's about 10 cents per lunch and 27 cents per breakfast in added costs. Congress provided only 6 additional cents for lunch and no additional funding for breakfast to cover the costs.

Congress needs to increase funding for school meals and give school nutrition professionals the flexibility to do our jobs.

Lynnelle Grumbles, Santa Clarita

The writer, a dietitian, is chief executive of the Santa Clarita Valley School Food Services Agency.

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