ABC Eagerly Promoted Michelle Obama's Healthy Eating Plan, But Skips First Lady When It Fails

August 28th, 2013 1:17 PM

Good Morning America on Wednesday conceded that school districts across the country are dropping a new government-imposed lunch program because, as one student put it, "the food is just nasty." However, no one on GMA pointed out that the plan had been heavily promoted by Michelle Obama. In contrast, back in February, the journalists featured the First Lady for an eight and a half minute segment, including time to promote her Let's Move initiative.

Anchor George Stephanopoulos allowed, "Schools across the country are dropping out of a federal program to curb childhood obesity because the kids just won't eat what they're served." Reporter David Kerley asserted that the "national school lunch program rolled just last fall to great fanfare." According to a student in Kentucky, the new lunches "taste like vomit."

Yet, back on February 26, 2013, Robin Roberts touted the efforts and identified the First Lady's connection: "This is the third anniversary of her Let's Move campaign, taking on childhood obesity. What have you accomplished with Let's Move? And what remains to be done?"

NBC's Today followed a similar script. On Monday, Savannah Guthrie touted the program's successes. Talking to White House chef Sam Kass, the journalist wondered, "So do you feel like the program is having the intended effect? Do you think people are thinking differently about food, now?"

It was the next day that the problems with the program were announced. Some districts have lost $30,000 by offering the new foods.

A transcript of the August 28 segment, which aired at 7:12am ET, follows:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We're going to turn now, though, to the nationwide backlash against healthy school lunches. Schools across the country are dropping out of a federal program to curb childhood obesity because the kids just won't eat what they're served. ABC's David Kerley has the story.

DAVID KERLEY: Fresh fruit, vegetables. The national school lunch program rolled just last fall to great fanfare. But this morning, some schools are dropping out, claiming the cafeterias are losing money. Why? The kids don't like the food.

GIRL: Sometimes, the food is just nasty.

BOY: Too healthy, almost.

KERLEY: While the healthy food drive is well-intentioned, according to superintendent Theresa Thayer, she says her Voorheesville school district lost $30,000 in the first three months of the program.

TERESA THAYER SNYDER (Voorheesville Superintendent): Our children were finding themselves hungry. They were throwing food away. What broke our hearts was that we would have to throw out intact pieces of fruits and vegetables.

KERLEY: The new rules limit high schoolers to an 850-calorie lunch. Some athletes say that's just not enough.

BOY SINGING: I know I gave up on food months ago.

KERLEY: This parody video has gone viral. Angry Kansas high school students, claiming the calorie restrictions and food choices are leaving them hungry.

BOY SINGING: We are hungry.

KERLEY: So, how did the menu change? Well, instead of the high-sodium and saturated-fat treats like french fries and pizza, today's lunch, might be chicken breast, brown rice and veggies. Choices kids might not take to right off the bat.

DR. RICHARD BESSER: For many children, fresh fruit is totally new. They never experienced it before. And so, a lot of it is ending up in the trash.

KERLEY: The USDA is telling us the vast majority of schools are using the new standards. Private researchers are suggesting the small number of districts that are opting out, are well-to-do districts which can afford to do so.