Microcosm of Nanny State Failure: School Lunch

by Steve MacDonald

Being programmed by the state has finally hit kids where they live–in the stomach.  And there is an important lesson to be learned if the kids and their stomachs are listening.  That lesson is this: Federal mandates apply force, limit choices, and result in waste, and that is exactly what has happened thanks to Michelle Obama and her meddling bureaucrats at the USDA etc.

The Government was given broad power to enforce menu standards, limiting calories, and forcing food onto menus that kids simply will not eat.  The result is waste on both sides of the serving line; costs to purchase the mandated foods that cafeteria managers know kids will not eat, the forced increase in the cost of lunches to meet some arbitrary Federal guideline, and then the waste as food that is being forced on students that is thrown away.

This is the alpha and omega of the centrally planned government that Democrats dream of.  And how are the kids responding….


Some are throwing away their vegetables while others are adapting to the rules by becoming industrious. In New Bedford, Massachusetts, students have created a black market – for chocolate syrup. The kiddie capitalists are smuggling in bottles of it and selling it by the squeeze, according to SouthCoastToday.com.

From PJMedia…

Not only is the mandated food not popular and often wasted, there also is not enough of it, and students are protesting. Students in one district have released a YouTubevideo parodying their quest for enough to eat during the day. A Facebook page asks kids to send in pictures of their meager lunches.

According to Livestrong.com, teenagers need between 2,000 and 3,000 calories per day to be healthy, and athletes can need as many as 5,000 calories. But the new regulations limit the intake to just 750-850 calories on the tray. Which, if the food is unpalatable, means the students may not be getting even that much.

One size doesn’t fit all, particularly in the lunchroom. The goal of the school lunch program is supposed to be feeding children, not filling the trash cans with uneaten food. The USDA’s new school lunch guidelines are a perfect example of what is wrong with government: misguided inputs, tremendous waste, and unaccomplished goals. Thanks to the Nutrition Nannies at the USDA, America’s children are going hungry at school.

Eight-hundred calories is not going to get you from lunch through football practice. They can’t even have an unlimited salad bar any more because they [the kids] might put too much cheese on it or not have the mandated eight cherry tomatoes.

So we have more expensive food, more nit-picking regulations that waste the time and patience of personnel, higher menu prices for students and parents, rules that limit or prohibit fundraising activities, and hungry kids, hungry athletes, choices no one wants, and excessive waste as a result.

It’s the built in failure of the centrally planned- nanny-state bureaucracy fit into a fruit cup.  The experts in Washington DC do not know better, can’t know, nor ever could, but since we’re the ones paying for it all why should they care?

To paraphrase Clint Eastwood, ‘Just leave us alone.’

Leave a Comment

  • C. dog e. doG

    So Steve –
    If I beat my dead horse to drum up the temerity to ask: “Does school choice in the Grate State of New Hamsters also apply to school lunch?”, would I also be able to serve that dead horse to the little darlin’s for lunch, and if I sprinkle some maple sugar on top, could they also have it for their special program breakfast too?
    – C. dog seeking Mr. Good Repub

    • nhsteve

      It’s all about choices. Not sure how maple sugar beaten dead horse would go over? Can I get bacon with it?

      • C. dog e. doG

        Sure, the more bacon the better!
        – C. dog channeling Jim Gaffigan breakfast special

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  • Hunter Dan

    More anti-education ” ” from folks who haven’t seen the inside of a public school in decades . . . if at all. Our school has awesome lunches. Our head chef just won a state-wide award! We have locally sourced apples every day. Lots of fresh veggies and daily vegetarian options for those who are so inclined. The week before Thanksgiving break the ladies in the kitchen cook up a REAL Thanksgiving feast! Turkey with all the trimmings. Last year they roasted 20+ birds! It’s great! They do the same thing the week before the December holiday break too!

    But go ahead . . . find fault. Belittle. Name-call. Poke fun at. One day all your negative energy will swallow you whole . . .

    • nhsteve

      Gee Dan, I have three kids in Public school. My wife is a teacher in a public school. I not only know what goes on, I have spies….(yes, actual spies) who tell me all about what goes on inside. I have spies who work in cafeterias, serve on school boards in various parts of the state, folks who work in or run charter and private schools. Some are Experts on curriculum. I even have people who tell me that you have been known to post at the Concord Monitor during school hours–but insist (politely) that you do it on your own time.

      I did not, however, know that your school lunches are excellent. Good for you. Bon Appetit.

      Question? How is criticizing the central planning of lunch, a federal mandate that is driving up prices for that lunch independent of the actual cost of the lunch, or remarking about a student rebellion over the mandated lunch…anti education? Is there a lunch test? Do you get a grade for lunch? I’d have to say that, aside from your exceptional situation, that nationally, centrally planned lunch is failing.

      • Hunter Dan

        OK, Steve. So you’re wife is a public school teacher. Does that mean your wife is a union thug, communist, socialist, liberal, lazy, overpaid, underworked, idiot? What’s that, “NO” you say. Fine I believe you. I bet she isn’t either. I bet she’s an intelligent, caring person. Well, if that’s true for her . . . how many other public school teachers is it true for? Heck, it might be true for me too! You don’t even know me so how can you judge me to be a union thug, communist, socialist, liberal, lazy, overpaid, underworked, idiot when I work in the same profession as your wife, who is not one of those?

        See, this is the problem with our country today. Our media outlets – almost every single one of them – is a propaganda room. Both liberal and conservative, they all suck. That goes for the so-called cable “news” networks, the totality of the talk radio echo chamber, and just about every blog I’ve ever read, including this one. The media’s not in the news business anymore, they’re in the advertising business. Ratings are king. That’s why they don’t discuss the important issues, they discuss bullshit non-issues. Of if they do discuss issues, they present and issue – then give you only TWO options – both of which are bat guano crazy. One on the right and one on the left. Here’s an example. The issue, the problem with our public education system. Now, depending on whether the media outlet in question leans right or left, you’ll get two solutions. The “right” solution: do away with all departments of education, our public school system and either send your kids to religious schools or homeschool ’em. The “left” solution: let the unions run the school’s as they see fit with no input from parents and keep pouring money down the rathole. NEITHER of these solutions is a valid solution. But most folks today don’t want to actually sit down and debate the tough issues and come up with solutions. That’s boring. That’s not sexy. Name-calling, rhetoric, and painting everything as an “us vs them” scenario where your side is right and the opponent is the “exotic other” IS sexy and exciting!

        And as for me doing anything that’s not directly work-related during the school day . . .

        1) I don’t do that anymore


        2) even if I did . . . WHAT BUSINESS IS IT OF YOURS?!?!?! Is there a TEST for that? Do you get a GRADE for that? Or better yet – is there a LAW against that?

        • nhsteve

          Still not sure what this has to do with lunch, but OK. You brought it up. She’s not in the union. She has the option to opt out. But I was a teamster for almost ten years, so I know all about what it’s like in the union. I. know. All. About. It.

          And just in case you missed it, my beef has always been with the Public sector unions and the members who are overzealous, not “teachers” specifically. I don’t care for the strong arm tactics, or for teachers and union members ignoring the SEIU and its horrible agenda, the way it treats opponents, the way it intimidates its own members. Union teachers can be a bit cold to the ones not in the union. It’s a bit mean-spirited. It’s not professional either, and it happens.

          I’ve seen this from the inside. I know all about it. And maybe it “doesn’t happen in your school,” but it happens and its wrong. And I’ll keep working to give all teachers the choice to opt out of mandatory dues.

          As for your former extracurricular activity, if you were using the schools taxpayer funded network and your activity was partisan or political it might be a no-no.

          As to what business is it of mine, I’m a taxpayer. I speak for taxpayers, As a member of CNHT I am a taxpayer advocate. And if I had ever come across proof you were wasting taxpayer dollars for your idle political pastime, you’d have gone under the bus with the folks at DES.

          You may have noticed that I didn’t pursue that. You certainly would have known if we had.

          All that aside, we appreciate you hanging out here, taking time to engage, to read our stuff, and giving us your perspective. Please keep it up.

          • Hunter Dan

            As for mandatory dues . . . yeah, that’s why they’re called DUES. You can CHOOSE to pay them and become a member, or not. The teachers unions fight for ALL teachers. When our union negotiates a contract, it benefits ALL teachers, not just union-member teachers. There is absolutely no bad blood in our school between union and non-union teachers. I know some non-union teachers who are excellent. And others not so good. Just as there are excellent and not-so-good union teachers.


    • granitegrok

      I was on my town’s budget committee – I’m betting that you have NO idea of the “strings attached” now as Moochella’s Utopian idea of what kids should eat are entailing – not only the cost, but the regulations and the difficulty in sourcing.

      And as for being “anti-education” – I’ve got two degrees (BA bio and MS in CS) . Fair number but I know that others have more. And a few folks I know have none but to whom I would certainly say are smarter than I.

      And I also question and am highly annoyed that folks in DC are so self-assured righteous that they know better than our local folks what is best for our local kids – and yes, this is ALL about who has the Control and who gets to tell who “go pound sand”.

      Unless you are a Progressive and just can’t stand the idea that the little folks can actually make informed decisions for themselves and their communities without the High Priests of Nutrition drop knowledge manna from on High…

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