Today a new hashtag caught fire on Twitter: #ThanksMichelleObama was used by teens around the country to curate pictures of the many fine food offerings U.S. schools have to offer.
I mean, look at that goodness right?
Of course, a Twitter hashtag wouldn’t be complete without a Twitter hashtag BACKLASH! Many folks (seems to me like folks who are out of the public school system) took the hashtag and reprimanded the “disappointing” and “#EntitledWhinyTeens” who complained about the food provided for them. “School lunches being crappy is a tale as old as time. FLOTUS just wanted to keep it from also killing you slowly.
#ThanksMichelleObama,” said Twitter user @TheHappyFeminist.
But what I think these detractors are missing is not only the sarcasm used in the tweets (The #thanksObama call back is not lost on me, and I don’t think I know a single person who uses that hashtag unironically) but the possible effectiveness. These kids are pointing out that just because a lunch “abides by healthy standards” doesn’t mean that it’s satisfying or a smart choice to be feeding our kids–and they’re taking that complaint to a public stage. This hashtag is bound to get mass amount of press (Hi!) and as well it should: the healthy serving of chicken strips might be three, but there’s no way that’s a healthy lunch for a growing kid.
We could go back and forth about funding for education programs, lunch offerings at public schools, and whether FLOTUS is out to get kids by enforcing healthy standards on their lunches. For a brief and shining moment my high school offered a freshly-made, usually-vegan, healthy lunch option every day for the same price as high schools elsewhere. Oh, and they were delicious. Then we were forced to switch to the District’s standard, and my interest in public school lunches dropped off. My point being that these are not the first shitty public school lunches I’ve encountered and I’m sure they won’t be the last.
But telling a generation that the First Lady has a right to change their lunch menu but they don’t makes all of her work nothing more than a publicity stunt. There’s more to nutrition than knowing caloric intakes and serving sizes. And seeing as how this has been her main focus as First Lady, I can’t imagine that the above meals are what she’s hoping for when she triumphs healthy eating. There’s a difference between knowledge and wisdom, and if we want kids to learn that in school then lunches seem like a good place to start.
These teens are smart enough to know that Michelle Obama isn’t the one who’s making the menu. But they’re also smart enough to know that her work here isn’t done.