Healthy Schools in Missouri and D.C.
There’s a bill before the D.C. Council that’s even worse than this one that was proposed during Missouri’s past legislative session. The D.C. bill would mandate 30 or 45 minutes of physical education per day, depending on grade level, and would order schools to buy “minimally-processed” food from local farmers. It would also establish a program to oversee and expand school gardens.
The Missouri bill was rife with nitty-gritty exercise and food regulations, too, but in some ways it wasn’t so bad. It was aimed solely at public school districts, whereas the D.C. bill would burden both districts and charter schools with new rules. And I can say this for the Missouri bill’s litany of caloric requirements: It stayed on the topic of student nutrition without straying off toward fads like school gardens and local food.
The sponsoring D.C. Council member takes a different point of view; she says that the local food her bill is preoccupied with should really be the bread and butter of the school day:
“You don’t work on math scores and say the heck with nutrition,” she said. “It’s not that these are fluff ideas. I don’t see this as something subordinate.”
It’s another case of a policymaker mistakenly assuming that local food and healthy food are one and the same. If a school says “no thanks” to local food preferences, that’s different from saying “to heck with nutrition.” It just means the school is open to buying nutritious food from wherever it’s grown.