When the USDA Becomes Mrs. Doubtfire
There’s been recent controversy over the new selections going into the public school lunches. Managed by a USDA voucher system, choices are selected by lobbying mega food brands like Kellogg, Heinze-Kraft, and Pepsi. This is part of the system that shooed in a generation of sugar additives and deployed an aggressive marketing technique – if you can get kids to request your product off of school lunch, parents are more likely to buy what the kids already like.
For starters, cutting chocolate milk out of the future menu because it is too high-sugar has supposedly raised vitriol. Attempts to cut out chocolate milk in the past have not been successful, because schools end up with a major surplus of normal milk (which we can assume the “Got Milk” geniuses contracted them to buy). We need kids to drink as much milk as possible to support the dairy industry. In the past three years, milk consumption has hit an all-time high. Parents who buy milk today are the kids who were targeted in the Got Milk campaign of the '90s.
“Most chocolate milks have about 20 grams of sugar per carton — roughly half of which is added sugar. The American Heart Association recommends kids consume just 25 grams of added sugar in a full day. But parents, teachers, and school officials simply aren’t having it. They insist children won’t drink unflavored milk — so the proposal would rob them of necessary calcium — and force them to go thirsty.”
Next up, Lunchables are back. Again, this is strategic as parents with kids entering the school system were also raised on Lunchables. The problem – just like the chocolate milk, Lunchables are barely food. Lunchables got re-engineered to fit the USDA requirements, but it's still basically a synthetic version of food. The new limits would also mean donuts and muffins can only be served twice a week as breakfast.
While these changes are a sad attempt to move the needle to take some action to prevent obesity, many are upset. Stat News reports, “All of the same concerns and hysteria arose around the 2010 legislation. School staff said this was impossible, the industry said this can’t happen … and people said kids won’t eat the food,” said Mozaffarian. “Foods that we know are making people sick, people somehow defend — and it just wouldn’t happen for any other product.”