Although First Lady Michelle Obama’s school lunch reforms have come under fire from students, she is confident that one day, her ideas for healthy eating will be accepted as the new normal.
Part of her strategy, she explained, was to teach children early about the importance of healthy eating.
“I mean, that’s one of the reasons why I’m confident that the school lunch changes will eventually be embraced by kids,” she explained in an interview with Cooking Light magazine. “Because we’re really thinking about the kids who are kindergartners today. If all they know are whole grains and vegetables, by the time they’re graduating from high school, this will be their norm; they won’t know anything different.”
The school lunch changes, she explained, were essential to her effort to change eating habits because many poor children were getting most of their meals at school.
“Many poor kids are getting two meals a day in the schools, and if those meals are the healthiest that we can give them, no matter what happens at home, they’re going to be ahead of the curve,” she said.
Her work, she explained, was a “generational goal” for children to develop “whole new set of habits and taste buds.”
“These kids will be acclimated to different tastes, and then they’ll go into college with that set of information and those skills and those norms. And hopefully they’ll become the voices of their generation for how to eat and live and build a quality life,” she predicted.
The First Lady admitted that change is difficult, particularly when dealing with a personal issue such as eating habits.
“Change is hard for anybody. And when you’re talking about food, food is really personal,” she said. “So when you’re telling people to rethink their dietary habits that they’ve lived with all their lives, it’s really personal.”
Part of her strategy, she said, was to be more “positive” and less “accusatory” without “making people feel judged.”
She explained that another one of her goals was to change the culture, in order to impress upon children the importance of eating healthier.
“It’s not just the policy at the top. It’s really what kids see every day on TV,” she said, “It’s what’s marketed to them. It’s what their parents are saying, what they’re hearing in their classrooms, what they’re watching their heroes in sports and entertainment do. That’s what shifts the culture.”