Celebrating another D-Day -- Doughnut Day -- and its military origins, but will future sugary snacks face federal fat tax?
Happy National Doughnut Day!
I know, my first reaction upon learning of today's seemingly light-hearted gustatory event was dismay that it unfortunately fell this year on the very solemn commemoration of D-Day, the landing 70 years ago of more than 160,000 Allied troops to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France.
This largest seaborne invasion in history on June 6, 1944, was the beginning of the invasion of German-occupied western Europe. It led to the freeing of France from Nazi occupation and was a key to the Allied victory in World War II.
But then I learned that Doughnut Day also has a military connection.
During World War I, Salvation Army officers who went to Europe to comfort U.S. troops did so by talking to the soldiers, helping them write letters home and, yes, bringing them freshly-made doughnuts.
The treats were so welcomed by the members of the military that the Salvation Army reprised its doughnut serving duties during World War II.
The treats were so popular that other military aid organizations also took to handing out the goodies. That's a Red Cross "Donut Dolly" there to the right serving Gen. Mark Clark a warm doughnut during a break in hostilities along the WWII Italian Front in 1944, courtesy of the Records of the Office of War Information and the National Archives.
Here in the United States, the first official Doughnut Day was celebrated on June 7, 1938, in Chicago, as a way for the Salvation Army to raise money its social service ministries during the Depression. That event soon went national.
Now the first Friday in June is designated as a day to celebrate the fried dough treats and the people who served them to U.S. soldiers in battle.
Frequent fat tax efforts: No one would begrudge any of our service men and women any treat that makes their sacrifices even a tiny bit more tolerable.
It's a different story, however, for us civilians who are scarfing down calorie-heavy doughnuts and other fattening food.
Public health groups are continually prodding governments to take steps to encourage us to eat healthier food or discourage us from indulging in goodies that contribute to excess poundage.
Such moves are generally at the state or local levels, although First Lady Michele Obama has made national awareness of nutritional food choices her prime project.
Now a couple of members of Congress also have joining the better eating effort at the federal level.
Tax break elimination to fight childhood obesity: Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) want to increase taxes on companies that market so-called junk food to kids. Money from the tax would go to the existing federal Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, which helps pay for the purchase of healthy snacks for school kids.
"Our nation is facing a childhood obesity crisis that demands our urgent attention, and one effective way of combating this epidemic is to ensure that our children are not confronted by persistent advertising from soda, snack, and candy makers," Harkin said. "Given the enormous public health costs associated with childhood obesity, our bill promotes healthier lifestyles.
Blumenthal said the federal tax legislation is needed because American children are getting fat in large part because companies are allowed to deduct from their tax bill the cost of marketing high-calorie foods and beverages.
"By eliminating the nonsensical tax loophole allowing companies to write off the cost of marketing junk food and sugary beverages to children, the Stop Subsidizing Childhood Obesity Act will encourage companies to put their creative talents toward promoting nutritious foods, and bring in revenue that will be put to good use -- providing fresh fruits and vegetables for elementary school children," said Blumenthal.
Harkin's and Blumenthal's bill, S. 2342, would require the federal government to enter into a contract with the Institute of Medicine, which then would determine, within a year of the bill's enactment, which foods and which brands are to be targeted by the law.
A companion bill, H.R. 2831, has been introduced in the House by Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.).
Stiff opposition: While the goal is laudable, don't expect the Stop Subsidizing Childhood Obesity Act to become law any time soon.
Most Republicans and some Democrats think that Uncle Sam already is too intrusive in our personal choices.
Schools are worried that changes in their dietary programs would be too costly.
There's also concern that the in addition to potentially raising taxes on a wide range of supermarket food products, it could affect fast food operations.
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