Mmm tofu. (Photo by flavorrelish.)

School lunches can now offer tofu as a “meat alternate,” thanks to a little-noticed announcement from the Department of Agriculture in January. If you’re looking for it in the government code, it’s at “7 C.F.R. 210.10(c)(2)(i)(D) of the regulatory text for the NSLP,” so just flip on over to that sub-sub-sub-sub-subsection.

Here’s the USDA’s announcement.

In short:

While tofu does not currently have a Federal standard of identity, the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) encourage plant-based sources of protein such as tofu. According to the DGA, consumption of a balanced variety of protein foods can contribute to improved nutrient intake and health benefits.

Not to get post-modern, but who among us does have a federal standard of identity? (You’ll soon need one to vote in various Southern states.)

This looks pretty appetizing to me.

School lunches, you may have noticed, are in the news these days. With the start of the new school year (and the existence of a presidential campaign), the right has made new school lunch policies supported by the first lady a micro-culture-war issue.

Some recent headlines:

  • Fox News: “Mixed grades for new, healthy school lunch rules”
  • Weekly Standard: “Revolt Over School Lunches?” [Ed. – Question mark?]
  • Fox News: “‘We Are Hungry:’ Students protest school lunch guidelines in YouTube video”
  • Fox News: “High school students boycott school cafeteria over new lunch restrictions”

And on, and on, the vast majority including the word “Fox” somewhere in the URL.

As we all know, kids complaining about school lunches is a new phenomenon, originating from their dislike of Michelle Obama. And so the Republican Party has responded, unveiling legislation that would reverse calorie restrictions in the new lunch policies. The legislation is called the “No Hungry Kids Act,” deciding against a catchy acronym for the title in favor of good old fear-mongering. (Please note: The House GOP tried to roll back food-stamp funding earlier this year. So maybe the bill should be called the “No Hungry Kids When Politically Beneficial Act.”)

Sponsored by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) — who totally just coincidentally is running for reelection against the wife of the head of the Department of Agriculture! — the NHKWPB Act would rescind the standard that school lunches contain between 650 and 850 calories, depending on grade level. It is important that this be repealed, because of freedom. Besides, what the kids were already eating was just fine.

As far as I can tell, none of the fury over the new standards stems from the fact that kids are now allowed to eat tofu in lieu of mystery meat. Wait until the Republicans learn about that. The sound you’ll hear is heads exploding.