At the rate things are going, Michelle Obama’s federal school lunch guidelines will be nothing more than a minor footnote in American history in another ten years. The latest bad news comes out of Wyoming, where seven schools have opted to forgo the standards dictated by the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act. Though it will mean that they won’t get the federal funds that come with compliance, school officials say that’s a worthy sacrifice.
According to the school district’s business manager, Jeremy Smith, it was an easy choice to make. In an interview with Wyoming Public Media, Smith said, “Universally, it was, ‘We are starving. We are hungry. This isn’t enough food for us. But we couldn’t blame them, because I looked at that school lunch and said, ‘I wouldn’t eat it either.’”
Unfortunately, walking away from the standards means having to make up the financial difference somehow. This was a hurdle the district was ready to tackle. By raising food prices and increasing the number of options available on the menu, the schools saw instant results. Participation levels rose by 20% and the district started making more money than it was before, even when you factor in the loss of federal funds. Funny how that works. You give people what they want, you charge a reasonable price, and everything works out. It’s almost as if it were the very foundation of our economy.
Just Another Democrat Failure
Michelle Obama rightfully takes a lot of the blame for the myriad of ways the lunch program has failed, but it’s important to remember that she is no more a lawmaker than she is a lunchlady. She was the public figurehead for this debacle, but the legislation came from Congress. It was signed by the president. And both deserve the blame for this debacle. Twitter has been home to righteous fury from the nation’s schoolchildren, where they post pictures of their skimpy lunches along with the hashtag #thanksmichelleobama. It’s amusing, but it’s also a little disheartening. Can you imagine how enraged the liberal media would be if this was a Republican initiative?
The seven Wyoming schools are just the latest to recognize that the lunch standards are not just hard on the students; they also have had a devastating effect on school finances. According to the School Nutrition Association, more than 50% of nationwide cafeteria officials surveyed believe that costs will exceed revenue next year. Even with the federal incentives, the program can’t pay for itself when kids are choosing to bring their lunch instead.
Maybe if things get bad enough, they’ll repeal the Act and recognize that mandating food standards from Washington is a bad idea. Knowing this administration, though, they’ll probably pass a law forcing kids to eat what they tell them. And in the name of the obesity epidemic, the media will champion the move as a victory for health.