In an interview with MSN, Michelle Obama shared some thoughts on school nutrition standards related to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, as well as the decision-making of parents. She declared, “Before coming to the White House, I struggled, as a working parent with a traveling, busy husband, to figure out how to feed my kids healthy, and I didn’t get it right. Our pediatrician had to pull me aside and point out some things that were going wrong. I thought to myself, if a Princeton and Harvard educated professional woman doesn’t know how to adequately feed her kids, then what are other parents going through who don’t have access to the information I have?”
These comments are condescending and illogical.
First off, figuring out how to feed your kids healthy food doesn’t take an Ivy League degree. It takes common sense and a little research, which can easily be done on a home or local library computer, or via smartphone. Even without any research, I’m pretty sure most parents can figure out (yes, all by themselves!) that you put the vegetables, not the Skittles, beside the protein in your kid’s dinner plate.
The implication made by Michelle Obama is that if she, an Ivy League-educated woman, couldn’t figure it out, then the rest of American parents don’t have a shot. Insulting? Yes. And absurd.
In fact, I graduated from the Ivy League, earning my M.A. from Columbia University. I learned nothing about nutrition there, nor did that degree enable me in any way to better figure out what healthy food looks like. Rather, I did that all by myself one day, sitting in a 400-square-foot apartment, with less than a thousand bucks in the bank, on a second-hand laptop.
Parents, you and I both know that it doesn’t take book smarts to earn common-sense credentials.
In that same interview, Michelle Obama added, “It’s so important for our schools to make the hard calls for our kids, because parents are struggling enough at home.”
Translation: Government needs to step in and help you out, parents.
As a reminder, many kids are dissatisfied with Michelle Obama’s school lunch program. Back in April, some students took to twitter to post images of their unsatisfactory lunches. Anyone with even a remote eye for nutrition (and no, they don’t need an Ivy League degree for that, Michelle) could tell that the food in those pictures appeared either insufficient in quantity or unhealthy and unappetizing in quality (and sometimes all of the above). When it comes to nutrition, less calories isn’t automatically synonymous with healthy. One-size-fits-all approaches don’t work when you’re dealing with many different types of students. High school football players have different caloric and nutritional needs than their more sedentary friends. Metabolisms are different.
And therein lies yet another common mistake of big-government liberals–the refusal to acknowledge that we’re all individuals. We’re all different. Whether it’s Michelle Obama’s school lunch program or her husband’s Obamacare, one-size-fits-all is doomed to fail.
According to a January 2014 Government Accountability Office audit of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act standards, “student participation in the National School Lunch Program declined by 1.2 million students (or 3.7 percent) from school year 2010-2011 through school year 2012-2013, after having increased steadily for many years.” School food authorities “faced challenges with addressing plate waste–or foods thrown away rather than consumed by students–and managing food costs, as well as planning menus and obtaining foods that complied with portion size and calorie requirements.”
As an added note, according to the New America Foundation, funding for nutritional programs for fiscal year 2014 totaled $16.3 billion. How much of that included student lunches tossed in the garbage? Is that what taxpayers are paying for?
Michelle Obama, the government doesn’t always know best. Nutrition is just one example of that. Good parents who care about their kids are quite capable of figuring out how to feed them healthy meals. And, to be honest, I learned a lot more common sense from waiting tables than I ever did from the Ivy League.
Jedediah Bila is co-host of Outnumbered on Fox News from 12-1pm ET. She is an author, columnist, Fox News Contributor, and former professor and high school academic dean. She has taught at the middle school, high school, and college levels. Follow Jedediah on Twitter @JedediahBila.