Federal Bureaucrats Stick Their Noses Into School Lunches

“School meals matter!” says the USDA’s guide for parents. The content of your child’s plate has been added to the long list of things that, according to the Obama Administration, must be regulated by the federal government. Those who are not convinced by the USDA’s less-than-compelling evidence that the government should dictate the diets of America’s schoolchildren should be prepared to pay a hefty fine. As if Common Core had not done enough damage to our children’s schools, the federal government is now planning to sic its bureaucrats on school cafeterias.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service proposed a regulation on March 28th that would fine schools and state agencies for “egregious or persistent disregard” of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which was the product of Michelle Obama’s “healthy eating” crusade. The proposed rule, which calls the fines an “assessment,” would allow the agency to confiscate a portion of the school’s or state’s total meal reimbursements. Even without violations, enforcement of the new rule will cost states $4.3 million in 2017 and $22.7 million over five years.

These “assessments” are particularly problematic as the USDA has failed to evaluate the effectiveness of the Act itself. Thus, the government will be blindly enforcing a regulation that has no outcome-based goals and no measure for long-term success. Additionally, the campaign leading to the passage of the Act contained little to no fact-based evidence, instead relying upon stories of childhood obesity and bullying. This is just one example of the Obama administration’s policy-by-anecdote approach.

The Hunger-Free Kids Act has already delivered a major blow to the school lunch program. Unhappy with their slimmed-down lunch choices under Mrs. Obama’s rules, 1.4 million students have dropped out of the program, according to a Government Accountability Office report.

Complaining of unappetizing choices and small portions, students have taken to Twitter to post picture of their terrible school lunches with the hashtag #ThanksMichelleObama. School lunches can only be made appetizing through a “temporary pasta exemption” or through the “black market” of condiments, resulting in an increase in the amount of food waste by students. As it turns out, you can lead a student to a Michelle-approved school lunch but you cannot make him eat it.

By controlling the contents of our children’s plates, the federal government is contributing to a much larger problem. The government is assuming the role of parent and, in doing so, is teaching an entire generation of Americans that the government is the best authority on daily choices such as the content of their meals. In order to promote this agenda, the Obama administration is using valuable leverage: school funding. If school funding and parental control of nutrition “matters” to you, tell the Obama administration to quit fining our children’s food.