Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa
Serving it up at Manenberg Primary!

Monday, November 21, 2016

A political post: What Trump could mean for the National School Lunch Program

I know, I heard your audible groan, “another post about the presidential election?” If you’re like me, I was incredibly invested in the presidential election - gobbling up political podcasts, watching the polls, watching the Hillary Shimmy on repeat. After seeing the results, I was extremely distressed and apathetic towards anything politics-related. However, channeling my inner-Elizabeth Warren, I am begrudgingly ready to move forward and give president-elect Trump a chance to advocate for the people.

Given the election news, I’ve decided to do a post on the National School Lunch Program and Trump.

“Trumped Up Trickle Down Economics” - Trump and the NSLP

Trump did not specifically reference the NSLP on the campaign trail, but several of his comments on other policies directly relate and should cause worry.

1. First, as a major proponent for deregulation, Trump has proposed rolling back safety regulations at the FDA. Trump specifically mentioned removing the FDA Food Police, which monitors food production, safety, quality, and transportation. Deregulating the FDA could greatly impact the food standards of the NSLP, specifically those achieved by the Michelle Obama administration. Lowering food standards opens cafeterias to more processed foods, soft drinks, and lower quality produce.

Donald Trump is a huge fan of fast food. Why? He believes it has the highest food safety standards.

2. Lowering taxes for the wealthy was one of the major selling points for the Trump campaign. Though Trump never said where he would make up the money lost from decreased tax revenues, there is a historical example of this same action that led to the gutting of the British School Lunch Program.

Margaret Thatcher was elected Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 1979, also elected on the premise that she would cut taxes and decrease government spending (Her party, the Conservative Party, holds similar ideological premises as the Republican party does today). What was the first program to be slashed? The school lunch program and the school milk subsidy, which had provided free milk to all children. Thatcher was labeled as “Thatcher Thatcher, Milk Snatcher!” for her steep cuts in public spending. While in office, she also abolished the minimum nutrition standards (sound like someone I just mentioned above?), allowing competitive private companies swoop in and sell low-quality, fast food to children.

While this may not happen in Trump’s presidency, it isn’t impossible nor unlikely. Especially since this happened in the UK - the European country with the most similar disparities in wealth and levels of childhood obesity - my fingers are crossed this won’t happen in the United States.

3. A Republican-led government will likely result in many social services and social welfare programs being drawn back. This is no surprise, as the conservative ideology calls for smaller government. In 2017, Congress will review and amend the Child Nutrition Reauthorization, which obviously relates to the NSLP. Republicans have already highlighted parts of the NSLP they want to roll back: Smart Snacks, the ban on certain foods, etc. They have also proposed a three-state block grant pilot, which is a complicated term that refers to funding. Simply, the federal government will decrease its investments in the NSLP.

Just reelected as Speaker of the House, we'll see what Paul Ryan and the Republicans have in store for us.

So, is the NSLP at risk for cuts in funding, and possibly for lower nutrition standards? Yes. Am I worried? No. I have such confidence and faith in Michelle Obama’s skills in protecting her efforts that have positively impacted millions of children.

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