June 21, 2021

U.S. Standards for School Snacks Move Beyond Cafeteria to Fight Obesity

“Parents and schools work hard to give our youngsters the opportunity to grow up healthy and strong, and providing healthy options through school cafeterias, vending machines and snack bars will support their great efforts,” Tom Vilsak, the agriculture secretary, said in a statement.

The new rules were required under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which was passed by Congress in 2010 with broad bipartisan support. The law, supported by Michelle Obama and drafted with an unusual level of cooperation between nutrition advocates and the food industry, required the Agriculture Department to set nutritional standards for all foods sold in schools.

The department had previously set the standards for fats, sugars and sodium in meals prepared in schools, and the new rules bring other foods under similar standards. When schools open in the fall of 2014, vending machines will have to be stocked with things like whole wheat crackers, granola bars and dried fruits, instead of MMs, Cheese Nips and gummy bears.

“By teaching and modeling healthy eating habits to children in school, these rules will encourage better eating habits over a lifetime,” said Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which worked on the legislation. “They mean we aren’t teaching nutrition in the classroom and then undercutting what we’re teaching when kids eat in the cafeteria or buy food from the school vending machines.”

Health advocates are taking the same approach to curb the consumption of fatty, sugary and salty foods that they did to reduce smoking: educating children in the hopes that they will grow up healthier and perhaps pass along healthy eating behavior to their parents.

Ms. Wootan said she was pleased that the rules would prevent the sale of sugary sports drinks like Gatorade in high schools. The drinks have already been withdrawn from elementary and middle schools, but Ms. Wootan said teenagers mistakenly think such drinks are healthier than sodas. “All they are is a sugary drink with added salt,” she said.

Some Republicans were critical of the new rules. Representative Lee Terry, a Republican from Nebraska, tweeted his opposition using the hashtag “nannystate” and writing “RIP tater tots.” Schools could probably sell Tater Tots, a hash-brown potato nugget made by Ore-Ida, if they were baked instead of fried.

Schools and big food and beverage companies have been trying to improve the nutritional quality of food sold in educational institutions for some time. The American Beverage Association, which lobbies on behalf of the beverage makers, noted that its members had already reduced the calories in drinks that are shipped to schools by 90 percent.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents big food companies, applauded the new rules, though it said it would continue to encourage the Agriculture Department to phase them in gradually.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/28/business/us-takes-aim-on-snacks-offered-for-sale-in-schools.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Today’s Economist: Nancy Folbre: Patriarchal Norms Still Shape Family Care

Nancy Folbre, economist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Nancy Folbre is an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She recently edited and contributed to “For Love and Money: Care Provision in the United States.

Many women are rightfully proud of fulfilling responsibilities for family care. At the Republican convention, Ann Romney spoke of the mothers holding our nation together. At the Democratic convention, Michelle Obama referred to herself as “mom in chief.” Both vouched for their husbands as good fathers and good men.

Today’s Economist

Perspectives from expert contributors.

Yet neither woman moved beyond a self-description as wife and mother, perhaps because both feared alienating swing voters if they did so.

It’s easy to find references to patriarchs, patriarchy or patriarchal attitudes in reporting on other countries. Yet these terms seem largely absent from discussions of current economic and political debates in the United States.

Perhaps they are no longer applicable. Or perhaps we mistakenly assume their irrelevance.

Here are some examples of recent usage in The New York Times: Osama Bin Laden was a patriarch. Patriarchal values are discouraging educated women’s labor-force participation in Dubai. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood is “committed to upholding traditional and patriarchal values around a woman’s place in society, and many Egyptian women need no convincing.”

Considerable evidence suggests that a significant percentage of Americans are also committed to upholding traditional and patriarchal values around a woman’s place in society and that many American women need no convincing.

In 1998, the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the United States, declared that a wife should “graciously submit” to her husband’s leadership. In 2000, shortly after the convention declared its opposition to women as pastors, former President Jimmy Carter severed his longstanding ties with the group. Official Southern Baptist doctrine remains largely unchanged today.

The Mormon Church, officially known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, holds similar views on wifely submission and imposes even stricter curbs on women’s access to positions of spiritual leadership. The church actively campaigned against the Equal Rights Amendment and excommunicated its most visible Mormon spokeswoman.

Not all members of these religious groups agree with official doctrines, and the rise of feminist Mormon bloggers represents a particularly fascinating example of dissent. Southern Baptists and Mormons are not the only two religious groups in the United States that embrace patriarchal values. But their ideological convergence could help explain why most of the Christian Right supports Mitt Romney.

It could also help explain why political allegiances are not as strongly affected by household wealth and income as we might expect. The political analyst and linguist George Lakoff describes Republicans as the Disciplinarian Father party and Democrats as the Nurturing Parent party.

A simpler description, occasionally invoked in this year’s presidential campaign, is the Daddy party versus the Mommy party. This description, related to but distinct from the gender gap, helps explain the relevance of patriarchy or “rule of the fathers.”

Traditional patriarchal systems restrict women’s legal and economic rights. Even in countries like the United States, in which women enjoy virtually equal opportunities outside the home, patriarchal norms assign them primary responsibility for family care.

Such norms continue to exercise a powerful influence. In 2010, the General Social Survey asked a representative sample of Americans whether they agreed that “it is much better for everyone involved if the man is the achiever outside the home and the woman takes care of the home and family.” About 35 percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed.

The sociologists David Cotter, Joan Hermsen and Reeve Vanneman show that levels of agreement with this statement in the General Social Survey diminished steadily between 1977 and 1993 but have changed little since then. Gender differences in likelihood of agreement are smaller than differences based on age and educational attainment.

Many women enjoy new economic opportunities, sometimes gaining the confidence to flout traditional gender norms. But their very success has elicited a cultural reaction and led some to declare the “end of men.”

Maybe we should try to end patriarchal norms instead. We could start by defining family care as a challenging and important achievement for everyone rather than a sacred obligation for women alone.

Easier said than done — but it would help if our presidential candidates spoke out on this issue. I’d like to hear more about their possible differences of opinion.

Article source: http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/17/women-should-take-care-of-home-and-family/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Economix Blog: Nancy Folbre: The Patriarchal Society in America

Nancy Folbre, economist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Nancy Folbre is an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She recently edited and contributed to “For Love and Money: Care Provision in the United States.

Many women are rightfully proud of fulfilling responsibilities for family care. At the Republican convention, Ann Romney spoke of the mothers holding our nation together. At the Democratic convention, Michelle Obama referred to herself as “mom in chief.” Both vouched for their husbands as good fathers and good men.

Today’s Economist

Perspectives from expert contributors.

Yet neither woman moved beyond a self-description as wife and mother, perhaps because both feared alienating swing voters if they did so.

It’s easy to find references to patriarchs, patriarchy or patriarchal attitudes in reporting on other countries. Yet these terms seem largely absent from discussions of current economic and political debates in the United States.

Perhaps they are no longer applicable. Or perhaps we mistakenly assume their irrelevance.

Here are some examples of recent usage in The New York Times: Osama Bin Laden was a patriarch. Patriarchal values are discouraging educated women’s labor-force participation in Dubai. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood is “committed to upholding traditional and patriarchal values around a woman’s place in society, and many Egyptian women need no convincing.”

Considerable evidence suggests that a significant percentage of Americans are also committed to upholding traditional and patriarchal values around a woman’s place in society and that many American women need no convincing.

In 1998, the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the United States, declared that a wife should “graciously submit” to her husband’s leadership. In 2000, shortly after the convention declared its opposition to women as pastors, former President Jimmy Carter severed his longstanding ties with the group. Official Southern Baptist doctrine remains largely unchanged today.

The Mormon Church, officially known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, holds similar views on wifely submission and imposes even stricter curbs on women’s access to positions of spiritual leadership. The church actively campaigned against the Equal Rights Amendment and excommunicated its most visible Mormon spokeswoman.

Not all members of these religious groups agree with official doctrines, and the rise of feminist Mormon bloggers represents a particularly fascinating example of dissent. Southern Baptists and Mormons are not the only two religious groups in the United States that embrace patriarchal values. But their ideological convergence could help explain why most of the Christian Right supports Mitt Romney.

It could also help explain why political allegiances are not as strongly affected by household wealth and income as we might expect. The political analyst and linguist George Lakoff describes Republicans as the Disciplinarian Father party and Democrats as the Nurturing Parent party.

A simpler description, occasionally invoked in this year’s presidential campaign, is the Daddy party versus the Mommy party. This description, related to but distinct from the gender gap, helps explain the relevance of patriarchy or “rule of the fathers.”

Traditional patriarchal systems restrict women’s legal and economic rights. Even in countries like the United States, in which women enjoy virtually equal opportunities outside the home, patriarchal norms assign them primary responsibility for family care.

Such norms continue to exercise a powerful influence. In 2010, the General Social Survey asked a representative sample of Americans whether they agreed that “it is much better for everyone involved if the man is the achiever outside the home and the woman takes care of the home and family.” About 35 percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed.

The sociologists David Cotter, Joan Hermsen and Reeve Vanneman show that levels of agreement with this statement in the General Social Survey diminished steadily between 1977 and 1993 but have changed little since then. Gender differences in likelihood of agreement are smaller than differences based on age and educational attainment.

Many women enjoy new economic opportunities, sometimes gaining the confidence to flout traditional gender norms. But their very success has elicited a cultural reaction and led some to declare the “end of men.”

Maybe we should try to end patriarchal norms instead. We could start by defining family care as a challenging and important achievement for everyone rather than a sacred obligation for women alone.

Easier said than done — but it would help if our presidential candidates spoke out on this issue. I’d like to hear more about their possible differences of opinion.

Article source: http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/17/women-should-take-care-of-home-and-family/?partner=rss&emc=rss

New Housing Task Force Takes Aim at Wall St.

After failing to produce any major prosecutions stemming from the housing crisis, an expanded federal task force is planning a new tack, cracking down on financial firms suspected of improperly bundling home loans into securities for investors, officials said Wednesday.

The Obama administration tried to instill confidence in the effort by installing Eric T. Schneiderman, the New York state attorney general who is viewed by liberal groups as a crusader against big banks, as one of the leaders of a new unit within the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. But skeptics still doubted the sincerity of the new effort.

The unit, announced by President Obama in the State of the Union address on Tuesday night, while Mr. Schneiderman looked on from a prime seat behind Michelle Obama, is the latest in a string of efforts undertaken by the administration over the last three years to prosecute crimes related to the financial crisis, bolster the housing market and help homeowners who are suffering under unaffordable mortgages.

Many of those efforts have met with limited success. The Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, created in late 2009, seemed little more than “a press release collection agency” being propped up by the Justice Department “to collect examples of investigations or prosecutions that would otherwise have been brought,” said Senator Charles E. Grassley, an Iowa Republican, at a Senate oversight hearing in June.

Officials said the new effort would be more focused than previous interagency programs to tackle the mortgage crisis.

“There have been investigations going on in various states and branches of the federal government,” Mr. Schneiderman said, speaking to reporters in Washington. “We’re now making a concerted effort to pull everything together and move forward aggressively to address these issues.”

Officials said the unit would most likely focus on Wall Street firms, big banks and other entities that many people thought had escaped scrutiny for their role in the housing crisis. The task force will most likely follow the lead of New York and Delaware, which are investigating potential flaws in the creation of mortgage-backed securities that could lead to charges of tax evasion, insurance fraud and securities fraud.

The Delaware attorney general, Beau Biden, has not yet signed on to the new effort. “We are willing to work with any agency that has the same interest in pursuing accountability in the mortgage finance industry,” said Ian McConnell, the director of Mr. Biden’s fraud division, which has joined forces with other states to pursue their own mortgage-related cases. “But any collaboration has to be real and meaningful.”

With only a year left in the president’s term, the task force also has a limited amount of time to produce results.

Mr. Obama told Congress that the new unit would include federal law enforcement officials and state attorneys general and would “expand our investigations into the abusive lending and packaging of risky mortgages that led to the housing crisis.”

That sounds much like previous White House efforts, particularly in 2009 when Mr. Obama outlined a new program to strengthen the investigation and prosecution of mortgage fraud, promising more money and people to target “virtually every step of the process, from predatory lending on Main Street to the manipulation on Wall Street.”

But Tuesday’s announcement shifted focus away from yet another faltering effort — an attempt, led by federal officials, to reach a settlement between state attorneys general and the large banks on foreclosure abuses.

Administration officials had tried unsuccessfully to reach a settlement before Tuesday night’s State of the Union address. On Wednesday, one of the crucial players, Kamala D. Harris, the attorney general of California, rejected the most recent terms, saying, “We believe it is inadequate for California.”

Mr. Schneiderman has been one of the most vocal critics of the proposed settlement because he feared it would provide the banks with immunity that would prevent him from a larger investigation into the causes of the crisis. The fact that he was appointed to the new unit reassured him that the proposed settlement would not give the banks a pass, he said Wednesday.

“Obviously, there’s no way that I or that any of the others involved are going to release any of the claims we’re investigating,” he said.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=143f1b8dcebb7c3e005fdbe7f3baf885