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First Lady Responds to School Meal Critics in Congress

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First Lady Michelle Obama on Tuesday said waiving healthier standards for school meals is "unacceptable" and touted the new guidelines success in a rare foray into politics to combat Republicans who argue the initiative has been too costly.

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"We're now seeing efforts in Congress to roll back these new standards and undo the hard work that all of you, all of us, have done on behalf of our kids," the first lady said. "And this is unacceptable. It's unacceptable not just to me as first lady, but as a mother."

Mrs. Obama was joined by school administrators from around the country to discuss the benefits that more rigorous nutritional guidelines have had for students. Serving healthier food has aided young people's academic performance and helped them develop better eating habits at a time when childhood obesity is at an alarming high, according the round table participants.

The remarks came a week after a House subcommittee advanced Republican legislation that would allow some schools to waive healthier school food standards championed by the first lady. The House Appropriations Committee is expected to approve the bill this week.

The panel admitted there have been growing pains both with school cafeteria workers serving the food and students who are accustomed to less nutritious options. But the troubled transition is no reason to go back to more relaxed standards, they said.

"The last thing we afford to do right now is play politics with our kids’ health," Michelle Obama said.

"Now is not the time to roll back everything that we have worked for. Our kids deserve so much better than that," she added.

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