October 20, 2014

Iowa farmer asks president to boost protein in school lunch menus

The man at the State Fair who handed President Obama a pork chop says he asked the president to boost the amount of protein required in school lunches.

Current USDA guidelines call for school lunches to account for one-third of the recommended daily intake of protein and Greg Lear of Spencer, the president-elect of the Iowa Pork Producers, says kids need more than that.

“Because 1.5 ounces is not enough protein for grade school kids when, for 30-40 percent of these kids, it is their major meal of the day,” Lear says.

Lear calls protein “brain food” and he says students need bigger portions of it in their school lunch.

“If he’s going to eliminate something, eliminate carbs or other processed sugars,” Lear says. “And I told him the future of our kids are at stake.”

Lear was volunteering at the Iowa Pork Producers stand on the fairgrounds Monday evening when President Obama visited the Fair. Obama took one of the chops Lear offered him, then Lear got to talk to the president.

“First thing I brought up I thanked him for the $100 million purchase of pork to use in school lunch programs and this kind of stuff,” Lear says. “…But also told him it was a drop in the bucket for the losses that appear to be coming at the independent hog producers in Iowa and the United States and that we needed more help.”

Lear also asked the president to support a temporary suspension of the Renewable Fuels Standard that requires a certain level of ethanol production. Lear says that would help pork producers struggling with high feed costs by freeing up some of the corn supply for livestock rather than ethanol.

(Reporting by Dan Skelton, KICD, Spencer)