School Lunch Mess

With school back in session, there is a lot of consternation being expressed over the new school lunch rules being implemented by the USDA  as a result of the new policy promoted by Michele Obama.  Ironically one of the biggest complaints of the "Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act" is that kids are hungry because of calorie restrictions.  

Another complaint is that kids don't like (and won't eat) some of the foods served.  Even before the law was fully implemented, one school official noted:

Nothing is achieved when money is spent on food that children won’t even be able to consume and nothing is more disheartening . . . than to see perfectly good and perfectly untouched food thrown into the trash.

And, yet another complaint is the rising cost of school lunch, which encourages kids and parents to future substitute away from the government-subsidized meals.  

As I put it in my forthcoming book, The Food Police, the school lunch program is trying to do to much:

So, we have a mess - a convoluted mix of policies that try to get enough calories in the bellies of poor kids so they’re not starving at night while simultaneously trying to get the richer kids who can have anything they want at home to eat a few more carrots at school.

    and (footnote omitted):

My point isn’t that parents and local school boards shouldn’t think about how to improve their children’s health. My question is who is in the best position to make this determination? It’s easy for someone in Washington to enact mandates without any knowledge of the location-specific costs and trade-offs. As a USDA report put it, “Policymakers face hard choices because the children served by NSLP have diverse nutritional needs, making a single policy for all difficult to craft.”