U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) on Thursday called out school systems that are moving to remove meat from their federally-subsidized school lunch and breakfast programs.
Hyde-Smith delivered the remarks at a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing titled, Farm Bill 2023: Nutrition Programs.
“For years, popular media has attacked animal agriculture and suggested that we cut back on livestock production and related food products in the name of mitigating climate change,” Hyde-Smith said. “These suggestions are very misleading. Climate activists love to blow the livestock sector’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions completely out of proportion and disregard the essential nutritional benefits of animal protein. And this sentiment is creeping into our school systems, where it has the potential to irreparably harm the most vulnerable in our society, our children.”
“It’s apparent that animal-sourced foods are the most complete and bioavailable sources of protein, and are full of vitamins and nutrients such as vitamin B12, zinc, and iron—all of which are essential for healthy development in children,” the Senator added. “I recognize that Americans have the right to make their own dietary choices, and I want that to happen. But we must consider what is in the school meals we provide to underserved children, who in most cases do not get to choose for themselves. The health and well-being of America’s children should not be sacrificed on the altar of climate activism.”
The hearing is the latest in a series leading up to the writing of a new, five-year Farm Bill. The nutrition title of the Farm Bill will cover reauthorization of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), Community Food Projects Competitive Grant Program (CFPCGP), and Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP).
The 2018 Farm Bill expires Sept. 30, 2023.