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NEWS RELEASE October 7, 2002

School Lunches Labeled “Weapons of Mass Destruction” in Provocative New Ad

Pork-Barrel Politics Is Ruining Children’s Health, Say Doctors

WASHINGTON—The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) will kick off a provocative new ad campaign next week that calls high-fat, high-cholesterol school lunches “weapons of mass destruction.” The ad places blame with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for putting industry interests before public health by buying up surplus pork, beef, cheese, and other products and dumping them into the National School Lunch Program.

Scheduled to run during National School Lunch Week (October 14-18) in the political newspaper The Hill, the ad is part of a major new effort by PCRM to promote legislative and regulatory changes in school lunches. PCRM is unveiling the ad today on its new Web site,, to coincide with a summit on school lunches, sponsored in part by the National Dairy Council, taking place in Washington, D.C. The Hill is published on October 16.

PCRM president Neal Barnard, M.D., says, “Pork-barrel politics is ruining our children’s health. Last year, the USDA foisted 420 million pounds of pork, beef, and other unhealthy products on our kids and other recipients of feeding programs just to prop up sagging farm profits. In fact, the government’s two biggest expenditures for the National School Lunch Program were $179 million for cheese and another $170 million for beef. Does anyone really think our already out-of-shape kids need more cheeseburgers?”

PCRM's new Web site, provides extensive resources for parents, educators, food service workers, and others interested in improving school lunches. The site, developed by PCRM nutrition director, Amy Lanou, Ph.D., offers the latest science on good nutrition, details on the National School Lunch Program, and plenty of delicious, kid-friendly recipes jam-packed with nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. also outlines ways people can get involved, including a write-in campaign asking the government to provide more vegetarian foods, along with alternatives to cow’s milk, in schools. The National School Lunch Act and the Child Nutrition Act, which established school lunches and other federal nutrition programs, are currently up for reauthorization in Congress.

On October 15, PCRM will file a petition for rulemaking calling on the USDA to mandate soymilk and other calcium-rich nondairy alternatives in the National School Lunch Program.

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.

Media Contact:
Jeanne S. McVey

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