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Military Food Service Officials Brace for Four More Years of Michelle Obama


With the 2nd inauguration of President Barack Obama firmly behind us, military commands across the nation are bracing for another four years of advocacy by First Lady Michelle Obama.

All First Ladies take on pet causes. Nancy Reagan had her “Just Say ‘No’ to Drugs. Laura Bush, a former librarian, focused on literacy. And Michelle Obama has devoted herself to promoting healthy eating habits, fighting childhood obesity and advocating for military families.

All are worthy causes for a First Lady to a President of any party.

But Michelle Obama’s policy initiatives have been criticized for going too far. For example, a pet legislative project of hers, the No Hungry Kids Act, forbids public schools from providing lunches consisting of more than 850 calories – a level that is too low for many growing teenagers and student athletes, who may not have another meal until after a demanding football, swimming or track workout after school. Elementary school lunches are limited to 650 calories – no matter the age of the child.

Recommended calorie intakes are different for teenage boys and girls – but the law makes no distinction, and limits 200-pound high school football player to the same lunch as the 80-pound freshman bookworm.

Some children also do farm work or other physical labor before and after school.

The First Lady also occasionally tours military chow halls, where she encourages military men and women to eat their vegetables and talks to them like 8-year-olds.

“You all look really good, really fit,” she told the airmen. “Thank you for eating your vegetables. We need you strong.”

She encouraged healthy habits during a visit with individual airmen at their tables.

“Don’t worry, you’ll be a vegetable guy soon,” she reassured one airman.

Mrs. Obama spearheads the federal Let’s Move initiative (www.letsmove.gov), which seeks to reduce child obesity. Advocates of her program point out that too many young people cannot even qualify to enlist in the military because of obesity and poor fitness. They also point out that the military spends over $1 billion each year on obesity-related medical care.

Through Let’s Move, the DoD had been experimenting with improving the nutritional quality of food in military chow halls beginning with a pilot program at Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas.

The First Lady recently visited the Little Rock AFB dining facility.

“The DOD is also going to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of every single military base in America to make sure they're serving healthy food not just to those in uniform, but to their families,” the First Lady threatened. “They'll be looking to improve the food served in dining facilities, school cafeterias, vending machines, snack bars, and any other places where military families purchase food.”

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