GMA Promotes Michelle Obama’s School Lunch Program

On Monday, ABC’s Good Morning America provided First Lady Michelle Obama’s school lunch program, entitled the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, with some free publicity.

Co-host George Stephanopoulos touted how “new federal guidelines pushed by the First Lady have cafeterias serving up healthier foods. And a new study finds those lunches may be better than the ones parents pack for their kids.”

The ABC co-host then turned to contributor Claire Shipman, wife of former White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, to further promote the study’s findings:

School cafeteria lunches. For years, they've been the butt of jokes. But this morning a new study suggests they may actually be healthier than those good old brown bag lunches prepared at home. 

Shipman never mentioned that the study received a $3.7 million grant from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, which runs Michelle Obama’s healthy food initiative. Instead of reporting on this detail, the ABC correspondent eagerly played up the supposed unbiased results of the study:

Registered dietitian Alisha Farris and her team of researchers collected data on 1300 packed and school lunches over five consecutive school days. They came from pre-k and kindergarten students in three schools in rural Virginia. The findings? Those packed lunches contained less fruit, fewer vegetables, and less milk than the school lunches. 

The packed lunches also contained more savory snacks, like chips and crackers. And more sugar-sweetened beverages…Check out this packed lunch the researchers analyzed including items like a bag of brownies, a bag of cookies and chips. That’s a whopping 590 calories alone. 

While Shipman briefly acknowledged the limits of the study, the ABC correspondent made sure to mention that “experts say there's a larger lesson for the approximately 40 percent of parents who do pack their kids’ lunches. The key? The less processed food the better. Stick to the basics.”

The segment ended with Shipman speaking to dietitian Lisa Drayer about what foods qualify under Michelle Obama’s healthy food program. George Stephanopoulos then provided one more endorsement of the program and insisted that there are “some good tips there.”

See relevant transcript below.

ABC’s Good Morning America

November 10, 2014

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We're going to turn now to the battle over school lunches. New federal guidelines pushed by the First Lady have cafeterias serving up healthier foods. And a new study finds those lunches may be better than the ones parents pack for their kids. ABC’s Claire Shipman has the story.  

CLAIRE SHIPMAN: School cafeteria lunches. For years, they've been the butt of jokes. 

ADAM SANDLER [In “Billy Madison”]: Lady, you're scaring us. 

SHIPMAN: But this morning a new study suggests they may actually be healthier than those good old brown bag lunches prepared at home. 

ALISHA FARRIS: Our overall findings of the study were that packed lunches were of less nutritional quality than school lunches. 

SHIPMAN: Registered dietitian Alisha Farris and her team of researchers collected data on 1300 packed and school lunches over five consecutive school days. They came from pre-k and kindergarten students in three schools in rural Virginia. 

The findings? Those packed lunches contained less fruit, fewer vegetables, and less milk than the school lunches. The packed lunches also contained more savory snacks, like chips and crackers. And more sugar-sweetened beverages.

 FARRIS: I was surprised by just how great the differences were.

SHIPMAN: Check out this packed lunch the researchers analyzed including items like a bag of brownies, a bag of cookies and chips. That’s a whopping 590 calories alone. While the sample size of the study was small, experts say there's a larger lesson for the approximately 40 percent of parents who do pack their kids’ lunches. The key? The less processed food the better. Stick to the basics. 

LISA DRAYER: For a protein and grain combo, you can have a turkey and cheese rollup or a tuna fish sandwich. A fruit kabob or you have some pepper strips and baby carrots. And for a dairy snack, you can include a string cheese or a low-fat yogurt. 

SHIPMAN: For Good Morning America, Claire Shipman, ABC News, Washington.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Some good tips there.

Education ABC Good Morning America Claire Shipman George Stephanopoulos Michelle Obama

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