If you force kids to eat old, outdated, or bland food for lunch at school, don’t be surprised to find that they’ve created a black market for substances that enhance, or in many cases mask, the flavor of the food. The Washington Free Beacon reported:
During a hearing before the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, chaired by Rep. Todd Rokita (R., Ind.), a school administrator told Congress of the “unintended consequences” of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.
“Perhaps the most colorful example in my district is that students have been caught bringing–and even selling–salt, pepper, and sugar in school to add taste to perceived bland and tasteless cafeteria food,” said John S. Payne, the president of Blackford County School Board of Trustees in Hartford City, Indiana.
“This ‘contraband’ economy is just one example of many that reinforce the call for flexibility [with the rules],” he said.
Payne noted other problems with the “one-size-fits-all” approach to providing healthier meals to students, including fewer kids participating in the program and higher food waste. The trend started in 2012, when the school lunch law, which was championed by Mrs. Obama, went into effect.
“Students are avoiding cafeteria food,” Payne said. “More students bring their lunch, and a few parents even ‘check out’ their child from campus, taking them to a local fast-food restaurant or home for lunch.”
Payne also said school fundraisers like bake sales, have been canceled due to the rules, and “whole-grain items and most of the broccoli end up in the trash” in his district.
The misnamed Healthy and Hunger-Free Kids Act has so far only left kids feeling sick and/or hungry. They’re eating off a federally-mandated, USDA-backed menu for school kids. And they’re either repulsed by the old, brown produce and meat “products,” or they’re starving because of the small, bland portions. Or both. No wonder kids have an obesity problem. They’re starved during the day, and when they get home, all they want to do is wash down a bag of Doritos with a couple sodas.
What’s the solution? According to John Payne, decentralization:
“The clear solution to these problems is local leadership and flexibility. When local school districts have the authority and flexibility to make adjustments honoring the spirit and intent of the law they can provide students with healthy, nutritious, and appetizing meals.”