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Supporting Noem’s School Nutrition Bill

December 19, 2013

liftarn_A_traditional_lunch_boxEarlier this month South Dakota Representative Kristi Noem announced a new school nutrition bill that would restore some local control back to schools in meal choices. She also happened to mention the bill to my middle son’s class yesterday. According her release the bill would to two important things:

  • Make the USDA’s temporary easing of the meat and grain requirements permanent, allowing schools more flexibility in serving meats and grains while still staying within calorie maximums
  • Give administrators flexibility on some of the rules that have increased costs for school districts

At that time the bill was not yet publicly available for viewing. Now it has been designated as HR 3663 and named the “Reducing Federal Mandates on School Lunch Act”.

This bill was introduced in direct response to new federal mandates that were handed down on school lunch standards and began in the 2012 school year. In response to parent outcries, the Department of Agriculture did temporarily suspend the regulations requirements for limiting grains and meat. This legislation introduced by Noem would make these temporary changes become permanent law. It is quite likely the Obama administration will fight against this bill since it was Michelle Obama that pressed hard for the new school lunch regulations to be passed.

Local control is truly what’s at stake in this fight Noem has taken a leadership role in. Our schools employ school lunchroom cooks to provide our children with nutritious and tasty meals. Overreach from federal regulators takes away the ability of these local school cooks to properly performing their duties. Parents and schools do not need bureaucrats in DC determining what one-size-fits-all approach works best for our children. If the lunches are locally controlled and the parents have a problem with the meals being served, they could take that up with the school board. Right now parents have no place to go other than our congressmen to fight these changes. That is as far from local control as one can get.

Hopefully Noem will get the bill passed in the House. It currently sits in the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and should be passed on from that committee with little or no problems. On the House floor there is no reason to believe the Republican majority won’t support a bill that brings some local control back to schools. I don’t think the Senate will pass this bill. Obama will lean on Reid to prevent the bill from ever being offered on the floor. So realistically if this bill were to pass it would happen when re-introduced in 2015; and only if Republicans regain the Senate (which doesn’t seem likely, I think the Republicans will gain a couple Senate seats, but not enough to take control away from Reid).

PS. Yes, I have been somewhat critical of Noem on other topics. But it is just as important to let legislators know when you support them as when you oppose their actions.

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