In an effort to control what our kids are eating and impose a one-size-fits-all diet on Americans, the federal government released new nutrition standards for public school lunches on January 25th. According to USA Today, the changes include:
“Establish maximum calorie and sodium limits for meals; require schools to serve a fruit and vegetable every day at lunch and in larger portions than offered before; require schools to offer a minimum number of leafy green vegetables, red-orange vegetables, starchy vegetables and legumes each week; require that after the two years of implementation, all grains offered to students must be rich in whole grains such as brown rice; require milk to be either low-fat (1%) or fat-free; require that foods that are served contain no trans fats.”
However these standards, announced and promoted by Michelle Obama, have not been well received by its intended audience. While the First Lady may have dined with students subjected to the newly formulated school lunch menu for the first time last Wednesday in Alexandria, Virginia, students in the Los Angeles Unified School District and Chicago Public Schools have already tasted and rejected the changes, forcing school officials to reverse course. In both cities, students had similar reactions: fewer students wanted to participate in the school lunch program; some skipped lunch altogether; others emptied their untouched trays into the garbage; and complaints about physical ailments – headaches, stomach aches, and even anemia – escalated.
Furthermore, the cost of maintaining such standards are taxing to an already broken system. USA Today continues,
“The federal government will give schools an additional 6 cents a lunch to meet the standards. When the rules are fully implemented, the cost of preparing a healthier lunch that meets the new rules is estimated to rise by about 11 cents, and the cost of preparing a breakfast is estimated to increase by 28 cents, the USDA says. The agency estimates that the increased cost of producing meals that meet the standard will be $3.2 billion over five years.”
Championing nutrition is no vice, but actively promoting a government mandated one-size-fits-all diet is no virtue. The nanny state should leave health and food decisions to individuals, and when it comes to America’s kids, parental rights should not be subjugated.
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