Poll finds adults prefer local decisions on school lunch nutrition


McClatchy Washington Bureau

Efforts from the White House to rally opposition to legislation in the House of Representatives offering one-year waivers from school lunch nutritional guidelines are not indicative of public opinion on federal regulation of school lunches, a new poll found.

According to the Rasmussen Poll released on June 3, 25 percent of adults surveyed said the federal government should set nutritional standards for schools. That’s up from 18 percent last August.

The poll found that 51 percent believe standards should be set by parent teacher groups or by local governments, and 15 percent said they should be set by state governments.

Federal nutritional guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture – which are set to become stricter this year as schools are required to switch to 100 percent whole grains – are the focus of a debate around this year’s agriculture spending bill.

The House bill, which includes a rider that would allow schools that lose money adhering to the standards to apply for a one-year waiver, was passed by committee and brought to a floor debate on Wednesday before being left as unfinished business.

President Barack Obama promised to veto the bill should it be presented to him with the waiver language attached. First Lady Michelle Obama has led the fight against rollbacks to school nutritional guidelines, which she helped champion during her husband’s first term.

However, Republican lawmakers on the House Appropriations Committee have said that the waivers are only meant to last one year, and will help rural schools acclimate to the newer and stricter standards that began phasing in starting in 2012.

The agriculture appropriations bill, H.R. 4800, is expected to come to a vote as soon as next week.

The conservative-leaning Rasmussen Poll surveyed 1,000 nationwide adults between May 28 and 29, with a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

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