Michelle Obama Wants To Know When School Nutrition Standards Became Political

"If we really want to make this country great, then our kids need to be healthy."

Michelle Obama responded to the Trump administration's changes to nutrition policies that Obama herself had helped create during her time as First Lady. Speaking at the Partnership for a Healthier America Summit in Washington, D.C. Friday, Obama urged parents to remember why she initially pushed for such options.

"Take me out of the equation — like me or don't like me," Obama said. "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."

Earlier this month, restrictions on salt and processed grains in school lunches were lifted as well as regulations that required more transparent disclosure of calories and added sugars in foods. Obama took time at the annual public health summit to question the politicization of an issue that she believes is about protecting children. 

"You have to stop and think, why don't you want our kids to have good food at school?" she said. "What is wrong with you? And why is that a partisan issue? Why would that be political? What is going on?"


First Lady Michelle Obama and students from Bancroft Elementary School prepare healthy food in the Kitchen of the White House, June 16, 2009.  Samantha Appleton / White House Archives

The former first lady was joined in D.C. by Sam Kass, a chef who has been a strong advocate for proper nutrition in schools and worked on nutrition initiatives with Obama. In a TED Talk he gave last January, he explored the relationship between hunger and the amount of information a student's performance in school. 

"When we give our kids the basic nourishment, they're gonna thrive," Kass said. "If we focus on the simple goal of properly nourishing ourselves, we could see a world that is more stable and secure."

Obama echoed a similar sentiment at the summit. 

"If we really want to make this country great, then our kids need to be healthy and they need to have access to the best," she said. "Not just some of them, but all of them."

Cover image via Chuck Kennedy / White House Archives.


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