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Republicans challenge school lunch rules

In last-minute campaigning, five House Republicans from rural states are making the new school lunch rules an issue.

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who is in a race against Christie Vilsack, the former Iowa first lady and wife of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, hosted Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., at lunch Tuesday with students in Storm Lake, Iowa. King and Huelskamp are co-sponsors of a bill to repeal the new rules that prohibits the USDA’s upper caloric limits.

“I am grateful I could join students and faculty at Storm Lake Elementary who are coping with the new overbearing USDA lunch standards,” King said Wednesday in a news release.

“I saw first-hand how President Obama, his wife, and his administration’s rationing of food to students is completely out of hand. This nanny state has gone overboard in determining what children eat — kids should be able to eat all of the healthy, nutritious school food they want. The ‘No Hungry Kids Act’ puts the power back in the hands of parents and directs the USDA to reevaluate the standards and prohibits the USDA from putting all kids on a diet just because some are overweight.”

In reality, the Agriculture Department has determined what schools can serve for decades and has changed those requirements in reaction to scientific findings and to lobbying by farm groups that want to make sure the food they produce are served in the schools.

Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., Phil Moe, R-Tenn., and Kristi Noem, R-S.D, sent a letter from the House Committee on Education and the Workforce asking the Government Accountability Office to evaluate the requirements that were established under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. The three also noted they had recently sent Vilsack a letter asking him to provide more details on the implementation of the school meals rule.

A Vilsack spokesman declined to comment on either action.