September 13, 2017

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders fiercely defended President Trump's dinner meetings with Democrats on Wednesday — even as Republicans have been left waiting for an invite. Nevertheless, "the idea that the Republican ideas are not represented in that room is ridiculous," Sanders insisted, pointing out that Trump himself is a Republican.

The question came in response to reports that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) are meeting Trump at the White House on Wednesday night to discuss health care, the DREAM Act, and other pressing issues. Democrats also joined Trump for dinner Tuesday night, when Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), and Joe Donnelly (Ind.) met to discuss issues like retirement security and keeping jobs in the U.S.

"This president has done more for bipartisanship in the last eight days than President Obama did in eight years," Sanders said. Watch below. Jeva Lange

February 27, 2017
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White House meals are subject to celebration and scrutiny, ranging from Eleanor Roosevelt's famously inedible kitchen to Michelle Obama's homegrown fares. But one month into President Trump's stay at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., first lady Melania Trump "has said little publicly about what she expects or wants from the cooking and entertaining staff," The New York Times reports.

"Without a hands-on first lady, they're just pumping out food and seeing what the reaction is," explained presidential food writer Adrian Miller.

While the responsibilities of running the kitchen traditionally fall on the first lady, Melania Trump is living at Trump Tower, in Manhattan, through the spring. As a former model, her culinary preferences include water and fruit, although her Slovenian relatives were farmers. George Ball of the Burpee seed company said he is offering Melania Trump Raka red onion seeds to showcase in her garden as her maternal grandfather created the hybrid variety.

But "usually, the food suffers when the first lady is uninterested," Miller said.

President Trump's culinary preferences are thought to include well-done steak with ketchup and an abundance of fast food. "I don't expect to see President Trump expounding the value of spinach and broccoli," said Sam Kass, former President Barack Obama's senior policy adviser for nutrition. Jeva Lange

November 4, 2016

With National Sandwich Day behind us, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) on Friday, apropos of nothing other than the fact that it was four hours until lunchtime, shared on Twitter that for 26 years, he's eaten two ham and cheese sandwiches "nearly every day." The exceptions maybe include Thanksgiving or his birthday, but it's unclear.

The news was followed up with the statement that "like millions of Americans, I bring my own lunch to work" and included a picture of Walker holding mayonnaise:

People were pretty excited for Walker:

Others reached out in concern:

Walker frequently tweets about food, and, in particular, sandwiches. In case you were wondering, he also likes "circus peanuts" and Big Macs with a side of hugs. Jeva Lange

October 31, 2016

With the current political climate being what it is, the nation can seem frighteningly, and even dangerously, divided. But let this fact unite us all in agreement: Oregon, Wyoming, Tennessee, Texas, and South Carolina have terrible taste in Halloween candy.

The conclusion can be drawn from this survey by Influenster, which compiled a map of the most popular Halloween candies by state. The unfortunate quintet named above apparently made the decision that candy corn is the best Halloween candy, which, no. Other states offered bold and surprising picks (looking at you Arizona), while still others need to seriously consider what steps they're going to take to make Halloween candy great again (for example: Kentucky ought to be expelled from the union on the grounds that its residents picked Whoppers).

Find out what candy ranked highest in your state, or mock inferior states for their bad opinions, at Influenster. Jeva Lange

August 17, 2016
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Hillary Clinton's longtime right-hand woman Huma Abedin isn't often seen on the campaign trail — or rather, she is there, but she is running the show from behind the scenes. But working on a presidential campaign is time consuming and exhausting: "I can't remember the last time I walked into a movie theater," Abedin told Vogue by way of example.

As one of Clinton's closest staffers (who is pretty much assumed to be the chief of staff if Clinton wins the election), Abedin ends up spending a whole lot of time in the campaign's headquarters in Brooklyn. Consequently, she doesn't have a lot of time to leave —or, well, eat:

It's no wonder that Abedin’s office hours usually run into the late night. Her habit is to come home and catch up on the hundreds of emails she receives daily. "My goal is to try to at least look at them," she says. But she rarely makes it all the way before passing out. When someone recently asked for a restaurant recommendation near the office, Abedin didn't know a single eatery in downtown Brooklyn: In a year and a half of working there, she'd never once left the building for lunch. [Vogue]

Read more about Abedin's whirlwind life in Vogue. Jeva Lange

August 16, 2016

Donald Trump won't be eating out too often if he ends up moving to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. While in the process of constructing the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., Trump had two restaurants planned for the building pull out due to his comments on immigrants. Trump sued, and restaurateurs José Andrés and Geoffrey Zakarian countersued.

Since, Trump has tried to keep the whole deposition under wraps. "The judge in the restaurant dispute — D.C. Superior Court Judge Brian Holeman [...] already turned down Trump's request to seal the video and, in so doing, may be providing fodder for Hillary Clinton's campaign and other foes eager to exploit the footage for attack ads," Politico wrote.

In the transcript of the deposition originally obtained by Politico, Trump rants about "Zakarian's foolish decision," as might be expected. But then he throws in the entirely unnecessary insult that D.C. doesn't have any good food:

As for whether liberal patrons would make a point not to patronize Trump's properties, Trump says he thinks they would — if it was a great restaurant. Then, he takes a bit of a shot at D.C.'s dining scene: "They want to go to a great restaurant … There aren't that many in Washington, believe me. There aren't that many in Washington, as you know."

"That may be something we can agree on," [Zakarian's attorney Deborah] Baum says. [The Washingtonian]

Okay, but who really can fault Trump? He just wanted to make D.C. dining great again. Jeva Lange

March 2, 2015
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The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, promoted as part of first lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move!" initiative against childhood obesity, has been the subject of much criticism since its unappetizing meals debuted in public schools across the country. It even spawned its own hashtag, #ThanksMichelleObama, which took Twitter by storm.

Public school kids protesting the strict standards have found an ally in Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), who has proposed the "Healthy School Meals Flexibility Act" aimed at giving schools more flexibility in complying with the USDA's regulations.

The Hill reports that Hoeven's bill would "allow schools to revert back to 2012 standards," when the USDA's requirements for acceptable amounts of sodium and whole grains were much more lenient. Hoeven made similar strides in 2012 when he succeeded in persuading the USDA to alter some of its limits regarding grains, starches, and protein.

The Hill also notes the expense of the Healthy Hungry-Free Kids Act: Complying with the requirements will cost districts $1.2 billion in additional food and labor expenses this year, with more than half of schools predicting a budgetary loss, and only 18 percent expecting to break even. Teresa Mull

January 26, 2015

Michelle Obama would be proud: Cadets at the military's largest dining hall can't get enough fresh broccoli and asparagus.

Mitchell Hall, the Air Force Academy's legendary dining facility, remains the "Defense Department's reigning champion of the military meal," according to Stars and Stripes, and the meals are getting a makeover.

"We are seeing an increase in cadets wanting healthy foods," said Shelly Morales, the dietitian who plans the school's menus weeks in advance.

A focus group of cadets is used to test new recipes. Classic comfort food favorites like mac and cheese and chicken fingers are still being served, but items like fresh salmon and veggies have been added to the lineup, options which Morales says the cadets look forward to.

The menus are prescribed by the Pentagon to provide between 3,200 and 4,000 calories to sustain cadets through the demanding training they face on a daily basis. Teresa Mull