A new political climate has descended on Washington, D.C.
The shift is brought by a changing political dynamic, as Republicans now hold a majority in both houses of Congress along with the Presidency, and a coinciding changing tide in legislators’ visions for the nation.
The differences between the Democratic and Republican Party exceed just the realm of economic, international, and social issues- these differences spill over even to their policies on child education and nutrition. Although that shouldn’t be surprising.
The Same Priorities, Different Approaches
After the Farm Bureau Convention concluded on January 10th, 2017 one thing was certain: when it comes to nutrition, farmers back the idea of incorporating more fruits and vegetables in child nutrition and coordinating with nutrition programs to make these available for students.
The rallying cry for all those with their noses in school nutrition has always been pursuing the best interest of students. The policy to make that happen though, is where roads stop converging.
In December, the House Freedom Caucus, consisting of a small group of influential conservative lawmakers, sent a list of regulations and rules they wanted dismantled to the desk of President-elect Donald Trump.
What landed on the desk of President-elect Trump, it turns out was nutritional policy.
With the House Freedom Caucus already starting their push to dismantle hundreds of policy initiatives specified under the Obama administration- change now seems imminent.
What may be surprising is the swiftness with which decisions began to be made on Capitol Hill by Republican Party leaders to change existing child nutrition regulations launched under the Obama administration.
To change anything, conservatives must rally and whip their party votes in both the House and the Senate effectively, which is never hard for a party known for being able to unite on a vote.
With a Republican president in power, Republicans will be the only thing standing in their way if they aim to enact new or dismantle existing nutritional policy.
So what do these proposed changes include?
According to the Freedom Caucus, it includes the school lunch program at the very top of its agenda. Citing the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2012, and concerns over what they consider “burdensome and unworkable [standards] for schools to implement.”
The House Freedom Caucus also cites concerns on whether students are eating or just throwing away the food schools are now required to serve.
With plenty of research to back that new standards are pushing students towards healthier choices and improving their nutrition, especially compared to lunches brought from home, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics, the Freedom Caucus isn’t free of opposition on any of their new propositions.
Solutions are being worked now by the new Congressional leadership as to how best to address the issues facing child nutrition. One thing they all already seem to be certain of: the current regulations aren’t working for their vision of America’s child nutrition agenda.
Alongside HHFKA, we can expect Republican leadership to push towards looser regulations in all aspects of school nutrition policy.
When it comes to funding these programs, it’s never a popular opinion to pull funding from any child-related expenses, but with sweeping wins, Republicans may feel they currently have political capital to spare.
Only time will tell.
Comment below and let us know what you think. Does HHFKA need to be reworked? What are some issues you see in your program or which you would liked to be improved?
Tune in as we continue to follow the latest news on changes that may be coming to your school nutrition program.