USDA leaves athletes hungry
There's a grassroots movement under way in high schools across America rising in protest of new U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrition guidelines that limit the number of calories in school lunches.
The Obama administration has been waging war against childhood obesity. As part of that campaign, the USDA has rewritten rules governing school lunch programs, increasing the quantity of fruits and vegetables and limiting the amount of protein and carbohydrates. In 2010, a Democratic-led Congress approved school lunch calorie guidelines that limit high school lunches to no more than 825 calories.
While the impact of the guidelines on overweight kids has yet to be seen, their effect on students with high metabolisms -- specifically high school athletes -- has been dramatic. It seems 825 calories at lunch just aren't enough for football players, runners, swimmers, wrestlers and soccer players who, between gym class and after-school practices, can burn through 3,000 a day.
They say they're peckish and tired at the end of the day. A protest video has gone viral on the Internet.
We aren't surprised that a one-size-fits-all government program isn't a viable solution to a complex social problem. Neither are we surprised, unfortunately, at the government's response.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, stating the obvious, said what those kids need is a snack. While Vilsack initially suggested parents pack additional food for their students, it was reported over the weekend that the USDA is working on a program to provide students with appropriate snacks.
To recap, the government is limiting the amount of food students eat at lunch, while at the same time it wants to feed them more food a few hours later. The irony seems to be lost on an administration that believes the only solution to a problem caused by one government program is another government program.
While we take exception to the attempts of elected officials and bureaucrats to create a cradle-to-grave nanny state to address every problem, both real and imagined, we take little solace from their inept execution of the plan.