There’s been quite a bit of tension since First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack rolled out their new school lunch initiative for this school year. But Jon Stewart’s Thursday response to the dispute is likely the best we’ve seen yet.
The new federal requirements, the first major nutritional school meal overhaul in over 15 years, offer less sodium and trans fats, more whole grains and a broader selection of fruits and vegetables to the 32 million students who take part in the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs. The rules also place a calorie cap on lunches: 650 calories for elementary school lunches, 700 for middle schools and 850 for high schools.
That’s where students across the country are waging war against the first lady. Teens from Kansas to Wisconsin have staged protests against the new school lunches, launching Twitter campaigns, boycotting cafeteria meals and filming videos in hopes of bringing widespread attention to their cause: the new rules are too restrictive, leaving kids hungry. Growing adolescents, teens say, require more calories because they’re burning more through sports and other activities.
Stewart took to his Thursday opening bit with, “Newsflash! Children think school lunches suck!”
“Extree, extree, school lunches suck and the portions are too small!” Stewart continues. “And you want more of it.”
In response to student outcry, GOP lawmakers have introduced a bill, titled the “No Hungry Kids Act,” that would repeal the calorie maximums. Vilsack told ABC News this week hat students should opt for a snack if they’re hungry, and the administration is working with districts to create snack programs for active students.
The current regulations not only double the amount of fruits and vegetables served to students, but also permit children to get second servings of fruits and veggies.
“Like that counts as food!” Stewart mocks. “You know what we call fruits and vegetables at my school? Nerd grenades.”
Students are simultaneously throwing away twice as much food from school meals as they did last year, according to ABC News, and Kristi King, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, tells the network that the whole grain and fiber-robust new lunches should actually keep students fuller than before, “if they are actually consuming the whole product.”
“Now, I am obviously not a nutritionist or an educator, but if these kids are hungry, I guess my solution would be, ‘Eat your motherf—— lunch!'” Stewart says.
The latest guidelines come at a time when 17 percent — or 12.5 million — of America’s children aged 2-19 are obese, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Another 16 percent or so are overweight and at risk of becoming obese.
A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that more than a third of high school students were eating vegetables less than once a day — “considerably below” recommended levels of intake for a healthy lifestyle that supports weight management and could reduce risks for chronic diseases and some cancers.