An Iowa lawmaker has proposed a ban on trans fat from school lunch menus. Democratic Representative Janet Petersen of Des Moines says if the state is serious about reducing childhood obesity, it should start with the food it dishes out daily to kids across Iowa.
"Iowa’s the bread basket for the rest of the country and we should be taking a leadership role on this," Petersen said. But, Iowa Department of Education lobbyist Jeff Berger asking lawmakers to reject the ban. He says eliminating trans fat would be costly because very few venders offer meals that would qualify.
"McDonalds can (ban trans fat) because they are one-hundred percent in control of their supply, schools are not," Berger said. Berger says venders typically follow the federal government’s nutritional guidelines, which allow for ten percent trans fat. So, he says unless congress demands healthier school lunches, Iowa’s school system would have trouble trimming the fat on it’s own.
"Some schools would have a hard time finding vendors for certain types of foods if this ban went into effect," Berger added. "If they want to pursue this at a national level, we’d support that." Petersen, who is a mother of three, says she’s keenly aware there’s room for improvement in school lunches.
"I think it’s hypocritical for government to be talking about cutting back on obesity when we’re not even looking at the school lunches that we’re providing to thousands of children all across the country," Petersen said. "The fact that fast food is ahead of school lunches is ridiculous."