First lady: Kids will ‘eventually’ embrace new school lunches

First lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaMichelle Obama on sexual misconduct allegations: I’m ‘sick’ Michelle Obama on dealing with difficult times: 'Don't tweet nasty stuff' House passes bill to curb presidential pensions MORE is “confident” that controversial changes to school lunch programs undertaken after her lobbying will “eventually be embraced by kids.”

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In an interview with Cooking Light magazine to mark the fifth anniversary of her Let’s Move initiative, the first lady says that she sees the effort as “generational.” Eventually, Obama argues, schools will be filled with children who never knew meals that did not conform to new nutritional standards.

“We’re really thinking about the kids who are kindergartners today,” Obama said. “If all they know are whole grains and vegetables, by the time they’re graduating from high school, this will be their norm; they won’t know anything different.”

The new rules have not gone over well with all students, who have tweeted out unsavory images of their lunches with the hashtag #thanksmichelleobama.

 

Lunches are now required to abide by tougher standards on sodium, whole grains, and the inclusion of fruits and vegetables. Snacks sold in school vending machines also be less than 200 calories, have less than 35 percent saturated fat, and have zero grams of trans fat.

The swap has also given additional ammunition to congressional Republicans, who are pushing the administration to allow some schools to opt out of new, stricter school lunch requirements. The GOP lawmakers say the new regulations are driving lunch costs up too high for schools, and that children aren't eating food they don't like.

In a budget deal struck last year, Republicans were successful in rolling back some standards on the use of whole grains and sodium.

The first lady said acknowledged that change was “hard,” especially on an issue like food.

“Food is really personal,” Obama said. “So when you’re telling people to rethink their dietary habits that they’ve lived with all their lives, it’s really personal.”

But, the first lady said, parents and educators can help by delivering “a message of change that’s positive, that’s not accusatory, it’s uplifting, it’s fun, and it doesn’t place blame.”

And Obama is confident the program will pay dividends down the road.

“These kids will be acclimated to different tastes, and then they’ll go into college with that set of information and those skills and those norms,” she said. “And hopefully they’ll become the voices of their generation for how to eat and live and build a quality life.

“We’re looking at those kids, and when they start to raise their own kids and they start passing on those habits to the next generation,” she said.