President Trump Will Not Let Girls Learn

One of the most inspiring role models for young women in America, including myself, is undoubtedly former First Lady Michelle Obama.  She is the epitome of strength, intelligence, eloquence, and so many more remarkable qualities — making her the quintessential First Lady. However, recently, President Donald Trump P’00 has attempted to tarnish her legacy by deciding to end two of Mrs. Obama’s most prominent initiatives: Let Girls Learn and healthy school lunch regulations.

Last Monday, CNN revealed a document showcasing an email sent from the Peace Corps’ Director Sheila Crowley to her employees. This email explained that the Peace Corps “will not continue to use the ‘Let Girls Learn’ brand or maintain a stand-alone program.” However, hours after, the White House denied making any changes to the program.

The Let Girls Learn initiative was established by the Obamas in March of 2015 to spread awareness about educational disadvantages for girls worldwide, especially in developing countries. According to the website for the program, Let Girls Learn “encourages community-led solutions by empowering local leaders to put lasting solutions in place.” With the kidnapping of 276 female Nigerian students taking place during the previous  year, Let Girls Learn captivated the nation and became a symbolic brand of hope.

dThe prospect of dismantling Let Girls Learn is utterly mystifying — why would anyone want to get rid of a program that works towards creating a more equitable world? After all, educating more young girls is not simply a “liberal” cause  — it is (or at least, should be) a bipartisan issue with support from legislators across the political and social spectrums. Any attempt to undo this progress towards female education in impoverished countries is unjust and reactionary.

Furthermore, discontinuing Mrs. Obama’s school lunch regulations is a step backwards on the path towards a healthier America. As many know, Mrs. Obama championed a program known as Let’s Move, which encourages children to exercise and eat healthily to reduce childhood obesity. The campaign included the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which stipulated that federally provided school lunches decrease in sodium, fat, and calories and increase in whole grains, non-fat milk, vegetables, and fruit.

While the program is more expensive than giving fish sticks and chocolate milk to students every day, it is the right choice for the wellbeing of all American children. Because so many students depend on school lunches as their main (or only) source of daily nutrition, they must be provided with the proper components of a healthy diet. Currently, approximately one-third of American children and teenagers are overweight; adjusting school lunch menus is the first step to reducing this statistic.

Although some may say that serving 1% milk instead of nonfat or increasing sodium levels in food is not going to make much of a difference, anyone making this assumption needs to focus on the big picture: This decision is the first of many more drastic ones that will likely be made. Additionally, the children eating these meals are developing lifelong eating habits, and starting their education by reinforcing unhealthy choices will only increase the number of overweight Americans.

Is initiating this chain reaction worth spending a little less money every year? Is the health of our nation’s future leaders worth the government adding another few billion dollars to the overfunded national budget? For me, the answer is no.

Unfortunately, these important decisions often go unnoticed. Most Americans are aware of big changes in major issues such as  health care or taxes, but many forget or don’t notice these seemingly small choices.

Ultimately, these minor decisions will add up. The budget adjustments and underpublicized discontinuation of education programs will eventually cause gradual but major effects on our country. Now is the time to educate ourselves on the administration’s decisions, no matter how insignificant they may seem. While we certainly should call our representatives about the big issues, we should also call them about the small ones. In the end, changing decisions such as the elimination of the Let Girls Learn program and stripping of lunch regulations will have a momentous impact on the future of the United States.

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