First Lady Michelle Obama, who has been leading a fight against childhood obesity, is battling a bill passed by a House committee allowing schools to opt out of nutritional guidelines passed in 2012. She compared it to “a few years ago when Congress declared that the sauce on a slice of pizza should count as a vegetable in school lunches.” Republicans lawmakers say kids won’t eat the healthier foods provided to them, and the guidelines are too costly. Is it time to backtrack on school lunch requirements, or is this just a slap at the president?As a middle school teacher (for 29 years), I often had cafeteria duty in the morning. It was my job to stand at the emerging line and receive the students’ orange juice, which I then poured into a large container to be poured down the drain.I also was handed the half-pint milk cartons, which were kept and presumably distributed again the next day. Later on, at another school, we collected apples and other fruits which would become projectiles as soon as the students reached their tables. Students will not eat food they don’t want to eat. A teacher cannot force a child to eat; that is the parents’ job. — Winston Barney, Fort Worth I am confused; did Congress pass a law mandating certain menus in school cafeterias? Michelle Obama is not an elected official and has no authority on her own to demand that schools follow her food guidelines. The old adage that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink applies here if kids simply will not eat what is offered. It is wasteful to continue to put foods in front of kids that they do not like and will not eat which then have to be thrown out. What purpose does that serve? — Clista Hancock, Arlington The United States has seen a disturbing increase in morbidly obese children.This is leading to a large increase in diseases not normally seen in children. Type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, precocious puberty, hyperlipidemia and cardiovascular diseases have been seen increasingly more in pediatric hospitals.Michelle Obama deserves praise from every parent in the United States. Simple carbohydrates, trans fat and empty calories were traded for healthy snacks. Daily exercising was presented as a fun thing. Positive feedback was given for successes, even small successes. The kids absorbed this mindset like a sponge. Maybe we won’t see as many people in their 20’s getting dialysis or having open heart surgery thanks to the very beneficial program initiated by the First Lady. — Beth Dawson, ArlingtonThere is no slap involved in the current food fight in American schools. Kids almost universally disdain the diet while many have opted out of school food and bring what they want to eat from home. You cannot micromanage a child’s preferences or lifestyles — Charles Andrews, Fort Worth I invite Mrs. Obama to park around Bonnie Brae Avenue next to Amon Carter Riverside High School and observe the children after classes are dismissed for the day. Street vendors park carts in residents yards, on the sidewalks or in the Boulevard areas to sell junk food and soft drinks to the students, and their parents and siblings that are there to pick them up.Personally, it shouldn’t be any of my business what people are snacking on, but tax dollars are being spent to provide these students with a healthy lunch and I clearly believe this defeats the purpose.I don’t believe the extra tax dollars being spent to provide one healthy meal a day is going to make a difference in eating habits. — Kay Nelson, ArlingtonThere are 365 days in a year, time three meals a day equals 1095 meals.There are about 160 school days. That makes 160 school lunches. This means that students eat less than 15 percent of their meals in school.How does the school lunch special help their weight? — John Dillon, Fort Worth The well meaning First Lady does not seem to know or care about the financial impact of wasted food.How about instead of bureaucrats dictating this, we have a panel of mothers with kids who know what healthy foods kids will actually eat? I grew up with “country” hot school lunches.My kids grew into adults with a wide variety of foods, many on the “unhealthy” list, including occasional pizza and chicken nuggets. We must put some sense into this instead of bureaucrats grandstanding — even well meaning ones. It is our money being wasted and I am tired of seeing pictures of trash cans full of wasted food. — Paul Buckley, Mansfield
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