Padma Lakshmi Just Dropped The Mic On School Lunch Policies

Maybe your dad packed your peanut butter and jelly sandwich in a sweet, plastic, G.I. Joe lunchbox. Maybe your grandmother's leftover lasagna was lovingly Tupper-wared and paper-bagged each morning before school, along with a few sneaky chocolates. Or, maybe you were one of the cool kids at the lunch table whose parents brought them McDonald's; your salty, crunchy french fries the envy of everyone one within smelling radius. Whatever your history, we're guessing the term "school lunch" stirs a memory or two, and maybe even triggers an emotion. After all, the sights, smells, and sounds of dining in the elementary school days are sensory experiences unlike any other.

Padma Lakshmi, the former model, current activist, and always-foodie has got a bone to pick with a few politicians who are attempting to make school lunch the pawn in a partisan game of "who's going to get the bill," and the reason she's getting involved has nothing to do with culinary tastes. According to The Guardian, the pandemic (for all of its terrible downsides) brought with it a few policies that greatly benefitted children — namely, the regulatory waivers that allowed public schools to offer free lunch to all students, regardless of their financial status. However, now there is a major change to school lunches that will stretch families' food budgets. These days, the question of which schools receive federal aid for nutritional programs is on the table, and kids' school lunches are on the chopping block.

While politicians argue, kids' school lunches are caught in the crossfire

"It's brutish and cruel to deny a child food and threaten their lunch money," Padma Lakshmi tweeted this week, in a statement only big, mean bullies could possibly have a problem with. But if everyone agrees that kids need to eat, then what's the problem?

A lot, according to the 22 states attorneys general who are suing the Biden administration over federal meal funding (via NBC News). The attorneys are claiming that guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regarding non-discriminatory practices are "trying to change law," and that the efforts to ensure that schools receiving nutritional aid are also offering kids an LGBTQ+-inclusive environment are an infringement upon states' rights. So, they're suing.

"Imagine starving a child because you don't agree [sic] being inclusive? How shameful," Lakshmi admonishes in her tweet. "Kids are required to attend school. They should have access to proper sustenance. Period." Lakshmi links to an article from The Hill, which explains that the attorneys general pursuing the lawsuit are all GOP-controlled states, making an attempt to thwart "an extreme left-wing agenda" that they claim the Biden administration is pushing on kids. And no matter which side of the argument people fall on, one thing is pretty clear: Kids (and their school lunches) are being put in the middle of a very grown-up argument with possibly dire implications.