Friday, April 20, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Don't retreat on school food improvements

Changing a generation's food habits takes longer than a few years, and returning school lunchrooms to their old ways certainly won't help.

Nonetheless, just four years after passing the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, the U.S. House is pushing to lower the quality of food served in public schools. Under the regulations, championed by first lady Michelle Obama, schools have been required to offer vegetables, fruits and whole grains in place of foods heavy in fat, sugar and sodium. It's part of a nationwide effort to battle high rates of childhood obesity; about 17 percent, or 12.5 million, children in the United States are considered obese.

Nine out of 10 schools are reporting that the guidelines are being met, but House Republicans apparently are listening to critics who complain the standards are too strict and cause a financial burden. And there have been anecdotal news reports that more children are throwing food away. The House's proposed solution, tucked into an agricultural spending bill: Give schools that lost money for six straight months a one-year reprieve from the new standards, including higher standards that are scheduled for the future. By serving less healthful options they could boost sales, the argument goes.

But government should make policy based on research, not anecdotes. A report released this year by the Harvard School of Public Health shows students are consuming healthier fare and that food waste is actually down. Students threw out about 40 percent of fruits both before and after the standards. But discarding of vegetables is down from 75 percent to 60 percent. Any parent of a picky eater would know that's progress.

House Republicans need to look beyond the initial bottom lines when it comes to school cafeteria budgets. The new standards are an attempt at long-term, systemic change in diet of American children, not a short-term fix. It is an investment in improved health and lower health care costs. And it's an acknowledgement of the leading role schools play in children's environment, particularly for low-income children whose only square meal may come during the school day. The United States already spends an estimated $190 billion a year treating obesity-related conditions. It's time to reverse that trend. And there is no better place to start than supporting healthy eating habits for our youngest citizens.

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Editorial: When they visit Natureís Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Natureís Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Natureís Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. ē The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission has wasted months as a politically motivated scam masquerading as a high-minded effort to ask voters to improve the state’s fundamental document. The commission on Monday added amendments to the Nove...
Published: 04/16/18
Editorial: Rednerís court win on medical marijuana sends message

Editorial: Rednerís court win on medical marijuana sends message

Florida regulators have done far too little to make voter-approved medical marijuana widely available for patients suffering from chronic illnesses. A circuit court judge in Tallahassee ruled last week there is a price for that obstruction, finding t...
Published: 04/15/18
Updated: 04/16/18
Editorial: Hillsborough commission should quit expanding urban area

Editorial: Hillsborough commission should quit expanding urban area

Any movement on modernizing local transportation is welcome, even small steps like the million dollars the state recently approved to design a Tampa Bay regional transit plan.But the region wonít make any progress on transportation, its single most p...
Published: 04/13/18
Updated: 04/18/18

Editorial: Fight harder on citrus greening

A new report by scientists advising the federal government finds no breakthrough discovery for managing citrus greening, a chronic disease killing Floridaís citrus industry. This should be a wake-up call to bring greater resources to the fight.The re...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18

Editorial: Floridians should focus more on health

A new snapshot of the nationís health shows a mixed picture for Florida and the challenges that residents and the health care community face in improving the quality of life.Americans are living longer, exercising more and doing better at managing th...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18