Statement of CSPI deputy director of federal affairs Colin Schwartz
There is a lot to celebrate on this historic day—including that today’s peaceful transfer of power has happened at all, and that Kamala Harris, the first woman, and the first woman of color, was sworn in as Vice President of the United States.
Today also represents fresh hope for our school kids, who have had their educational and nutritional needs battered by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Trump administration. Because the Trump administration failed to release a rule re-proposing nutritional rollbacks for the school meals program—the same nutritional rollbacks thrown out by a federal judge in April following our filing suit—the Biden administration will have an easier time hitting the reset button on school meals. This is on top of another proposed rule the Trump administration abandoned that would have allowed kids to choose pizza, cookies, and French fries for lunch every day.
The Biden-Harris administration will have much to do on day one, day two, and every subsequent day of their term or terms. And we are glad that the administration’s bold American Recovery Plan includes funding to reopen schools and help school systems cover the additional expenses involved in feeding kids during the pandemic.
Healthy kids are better learners. President Joe Biden knows this, having stood beside Michelle and former President Obama as they got junk food out of schools and got more fresh fruits and vegetables in. School meals, relied on by 30 million children—a number that is sadly only growing given the economy— have been under assault for the past four years.
It’s time to take the politics out of what goes on the lunch tray and return meals to what nutrition experts recommend. The Center for Science in the Public Interest urges the new administration to immediately solidify the nutrition standards for kids’ school breakfasts and lunches. While they are at it, the new administration should also make sure that no child’s family has to pay for a nutritious school meal for the length of this crisis, and beyond.