It’s not the kind of issue likely to swing the 2016 election, but Republicans running for president would be wise to mention the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act as they lay out their vision for America. The supposed brainchild of First Lady Michelle Obama, the program was meant to give public schoolchildren healthier meals and reduce both hunger and obesity. The stiff federal regulations, however, have led to 1.4 million students opting out of school lunch altogether.
According to a new report from the Government Accountability Office, the Obama lunch rules have been a considerable failure. “Nationwide, participation in the National School Lunch Program has declined in recent years after having increased steadily for more than a decade,” the report said.
The 4.5% decline isn’t the only failure of the program. In interviews with eight state child nutrition directors, the GAO found that food waste continues to be a major issue within participating districts. “Decreases in lunch participation were influenced by student acceptance of the changes made to comply with the new lunch content and nutrition standards,” they said.
In other words, students find the food disgusting. And anyone who remembers public school lunch will be able to sympathize with that opinion. Imagine if the same cooks who came up with your pizza rectangle were now serving up such questionable fare as sweet potato tater-tots and mushy whole wheat pasta. Oh, and imagine those dishes served with an extra dash of pepper to make up for the federal sodium restrictions. Can you blame any kid who would rather toss it in the trash?
Hilariously, the GAO reports that these restrictions have created a black market in many schools for salt and sugar. These kids are so desperate to have a lunch they can enjoy that they’re willing to do deals in the dark for basic seasonings.
No one’s suggesting that we shut down the government in an attempt to repeal these laws, but this is emblematic of an administration that arrogantly believes it can force progressive change onto the country. And while there’s no question that Obama has successfully handled the “force” part of the deal, the results of his failed policies are staggeringly clear. The school lunch program isn’t the worst of them, but it’s a disaster nonetheless.
What’s really scary is that Obama (and his likely successor, Hillary Clinton) believe that we need to take this federal intrusion even further. Mandatory free pre-K. Free college. Obama’s education secretary even floated the idea of public boarding schools this past summer, apparently unhappy that parents continue to have influence of any kind over their children. The Democrat response to failure is, in every instance, to go bigger on the very same policies that have failed.
A vote for Democrats is a vote for mushy pasta. GOP, you can have that slogan for free.