The U.S. Department of Agriculture is pushing back against a campaign criticizing First Lady Michelle Obama’s school lunch rules by showing one picture of a somewhat appetizing child’s lunch.
"They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and in the digital age we have ample opportunity to document and broadcast every moment, meeting and meal," wrote Deborah Kane, the national director of the USDA Farm to School Program, in a blog post Thursday.
"We have all seen those unappetizing photos of food served at school that quickly go viral," she said. "A lonesome whole wheat bun atop a sad fish fillet; a mysterious-looking meat mixture served next to an apple. It’s natural to ask, ‘Is this what they serve for lunch!?’"
"No, it’s really not," Kane said.
The blog post, entitled "Photo Worthy Meals," shows one image of a school lunch served in a New Orleans charter school.
"Beautiful meals like this are what’s for lunch today and every day in schools across the country," the caption reads below a picture of a meal of broccoli, corn, some sort of rice, an apple, bun, low-fat chocolate milk, and a fish patty the size of the young child’s head.
The photo stands in contrast to images of meager portions and unappetizing selections shared with the hashtag #ThanksMichelleObama, a Twitter campaign started by students against the healthy eating law.
However, Kane would rather the kids not share their pictures, unless the food looks good.
"In my ideal world, the Internet would be abuzz with photos like the one above, also a school lunch featuring a fish fillet, taken at Samuel J. Green Charter School in New Orleans," she said.
Kane said the school relies on federal funding so that "at least five percent of all the foods offered in its cafeterias were sourced locally."
"I am certain there’s no end to the great photos we could share with one another," she said. "Post a photo of what your school is doing on Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Facebook or Tumblr using #farmtoschool or #realschoolfood."
"This is what they serve for lunch?' parents will exclaim, amazed that school lunch can be so nourishing, so local and so good," Kane said.
Photos with #ThanksMichelleObama vastly outweigh the USDA-approved #realschoolfood hashtag.
Just on Friday students tweeted out meals they described as "horse meat."
— Bella (@beeeella__) May 15, 2015
— Alex Andra (@monsterpanhead) May 15, 2015
Students have documented other horrors of the healthy eating standards, including rotten fruit, "thimble-sized" portions, and complaints that school lunches are like "prison food."