At a summit on May 12, Michelle Obama vigorously defended the healthy eating initiative that was her biggest legacy as First Lady and asked why healthy school lunches have become a partisan issue. (Reuters)
by Caitlin Dewey via washingtonpost.com
A fiery Michelle Obama vigorously defended the healthy eating initiative that was her biggest legacy as First Lady on Friday, telling a public health summit in Washington D.C. that something was “wrong” with an administration that did not want to give consumers nutrition information or teach children to eat healthily.
“We gotta make sure we don’t let anybody take us back,” Obama said. “This is where you really have to look at motives, you know. You have to stop and think, why don’t you want our kids to have good food at school? What is wrong with you? And why is that a partisan issue? Why would that be political? What is going on?”
In a 43-minute conversation, peppered with sarcastic remarks and veiled references to the Trump administration, Michele Obama discussed topics from life since her husband left the presidency to her Let’s Move! initiative.“Take me out of the equation — like me or don’t like me,” Obama added. “But think about why someone is okay with your kids eating crap. Why would you celebrate that? Why would you sit idly and be okay with that? Because here’s the secret: If someone is doing that, they don’t care about your kid.”
The comments were Obama’s first public remarks on the Trump administration’s assault on nutrition policy, which has already seen the delay of rules meant to reduce sodium and refined grains in school lunches and provide calorie counts on restaurant menus. The former First Lady championed many of those programs.
The First Lady was speaking at the annual summit of the Partnership for a Healthier America, an organization she helped found to extend her nutrition policies to the private sector. Her remarks were made during a conversation with Sam Kass, a longtime friend and the first executive director of her Let’s Move! program. Kass and Obama discussed a range of topics, including the Obamas’ move to a new D.C. residence and the sorts of meals Obama ate as a child. (Of life since her husband’s presidency, Mrs. Obama said: “Being former is alright.”) But by far her most pointed comments were about the recent delays to the menu-labeling rules and the changes to the school lunch program.
The former First Lady appeared to take issue with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue‘s defense of the school lunch rollbacks, which he justified in part, in his May 1 announcement, by saying many kids didn’t like the foods.“That to me is one of the most ridiculous things that we talk about in this movement — ‘the kids aren’t happy,’” Obama said. “Well you know what? Kids don’t like math either. What are we gonna do, stop teaching math?”
A spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture declined to comment on Mrs. Obama’s remarks, and said that “Sec. Perdue has nothing but the utmost respect for Michelle Obama.”Obama also objected to the proposed delay of new nutrition labels that were scheduled to go into effect in 2018. The new labels would feature information about calories and added sugars more prominently, but the packaged food industry has requested the compliance deadline be pushed back until at least 2020.
“Keep families ignorant. That’s all I’m hearing,” Obama said. “You don’t need to know what’s in your food. You can’t handle that, mom. Just buy this, be quiet, spend your money — don’t ask us about what’s in your food.” The sharpness of Obama’s remarks are unusual for a former First Lady: There is an unwritten rule that they do not criticize their successors, said Kati Marton, the author of a best-selling book on presidential marriages. It’s also a shift for Obama, who tended to tread cautiously during her husband’s tenure. But Marton said the rules, such as they are, were made for different times.
“It’s impossible to compare her to any prior first ladies, because it’s impossible to compare the Trump administration to any prior one,” she said. “I think it would be a mistake for the Obamas to play by rules that Trump doesn’t play by, himself.” The past four months have seen the food industry seize onto President Trump’s anti-regulatory agenda, arguing for the delay or suspension of rules that Mrs. Obama encouraged. In recent weeks, the National Association of Convenience Stores, the National Grocers Association and the American Bakers Association have all cited the Trump administration’s regulatory rollback as reason to delay the menu-labelling rules and new nutrition labels.
To read full article and see video, go to: Michelle Obama on Trump rollback: ‘Think about why someone is okay with your kids eating crap’ – The Washington Post