A Conservative Solution to The Public School Lunch Circular Firing Squad

by Steve MacDonald

Federal mandates made school lunches cost more and forced foods into them most kids don’t care for so the Derry School District Lunch program School lunches dont have to be expensive trach no one wantsis pondering why overall receipts are down.

“The food service numbers are significantly less on student sales,” Simard said. She said the food services department is still working to determine the cause and whether it is the result of new meal plans and food choices required under state and federal reimbursement guidelines.

She knows why she is just being diplomatic.  The Feds have made lunch cost more.  They have made the cost of providing lunch cost more.  They have simultaneously required foods that a majority of the target hot lunch customer base does not enjoy while making foods they do less accessible or unavailable.  The result is more cost for less benefit.

This particular reporting in Derry NH (NH Union Leader) tells the same sad tale.

“There’s quite a bit of waste.”

To get reimbursed the district must sell a full meal which includes things many students will not eat.

The district has to wait to get reimbursed.

The district can get additional reimbursements if they comply with USDA guidelines…“We are trying to comply with the program so we can generate the additional revenue.

So follow me here.  One set of bureaucrats imposes guidelines that make meals cost more, composed of things kids won’t eat so that local officials can chase revenue that they have to wait for, all because someone in a far away place wanted to put “I fixed school lunches” on their political resume.

But they didn’t fix them.  They broke them.

So here’s an idea.  I know, it’s crazy.  Fire all those federal people.  Eliminate all those mandates and reimbursements and the bureaucrats needed to write, impose, and manage them.   Instead, let local district food service managers create meal plans with foods their kids will buy and may actually eat, at prices they might be willing to pay, in relation to the actual cost required to deliver them, because they were not artificially inflated by the bureaucrats we no longer need or include foods that cost too much–but that bureaucrats require–that no one wants, and will only get thrown out.

Is this too simple?

This is, by the way, an example of what I mean when I say we need “small government” and “local control.”

If I only said that the USDA school lunch program is a waste of taxpayer dollars and would be better manged without the Feds in the middle, more than a few Democrats might see that as an opportunity to suggest that I want to make kids go hungry or end funding for free or supplemental lunches.   They say the same thing when you declare that the 72 billion we spend annually on the department of education is a waste–which it is.  But they are not even close.  What we are doing now, thanks to the feds, is spending more, wasting more, and leaving kids hungry.

What I have outlined is Conservative thinking at its finest.  It saves everyone money and frustration.  My plan empowers local people to make local decisions at a fraction of the cost, with a fraction of the waste, with price points that might well make hot lunch affordable to a wider range of kids, reducing the cost of free or supplemental lunches, freeing up local revenue to pay for kids who actually need free lunches, that may end up inside stomachs instead of trash barrels, leading to less waste and less hunger, more fed and attentive students, and millions less wasted on a tangle of pointless paper-pushers and man hours exhausted on chasing down reimbursements or cataloging what ended up in the waste bin.  It also places the decision-making process as close to the people affected as possible. People who can make decisions about who in their community needs help and how best to provide it.

And by the way, what good is a free lunch no kid wants to eat?

The Conservative position is that local residents know best whom to elect and to appoint, who is most qualified to then hire competent local mangers, who can then run their local school lunch programs effectively, without the need for Leviathan government standing over them.  The goal is to provide a decent, affordable meal kids will eat so they are not distracted by hunger, and to provide adequate compensation to those we have empowered to that end.

The alternative (the bizarro world version of how to deliver a lunch) is what we have now.  Federal mandates that strangle everyone drive up prices, and increase the cost of running a program that provides food no one wants, in exchange for wasting even more of our program mangers time, chasing down the chimera of “reimbursements” to cover costs that only exist because of the mandates themselves.

Remove all of that and people are paying for food they want at a price they agree to, that covers the cost to provide it, without any additional transactions outside the place in which the product and service were provided.

Cost effective, local control that is limited to only that which is required to achieve the desired goal.  That is a conservative ideal.  It is sometimes (also) a Republican idea.  And let’s be perfectly honest–it is a common sense idea that eliminates all the problems and spends less doing it.

School lunches are getting more expensive.  We are seeing fewer people buying them and those that do waste much of what they purchase.  Kids are going hungry.  Administrators are being forced to spend time and money chasing paperwork.  And it will only get worse.  How is any of that good for our kids?

I would encourage New Hampshire legislators, including Democrats,  to craft legislation that excludes us from this federal bureaucratic maze of nonsense and that returns local control to districts, school lunch managers, and the parents to whom they answer. The result would be local control, more affordable choices, decent food kids and parents are willing to pay for, and less wasted time and effort.

The left likes to talk about sensible bi-partisan solutions that solve problems.  Here you go.  Have at it.



Steve has been recognized as the Americans For Prosperity Blogger of the Month for December 2012

Steve Mac Donald has been recognized as the AFP December Blogger of the month


Leave a Comment


    I’m immensely proud of our school’s food service staff. They just one a national award. A bronze medal for providing healthy food – the first NH school to qualify under the Fed’s new healthy school’s initiative.

    • granitegrok

      Oh goody – another schoolie “every one gets a trophy for their self-esteem” medal. Make it bright and shiny now – to outshine how much more the intrusion of the Nanny State Feds is costing you!

    • granitegrok

      BTW, Dan – posting on the taxpayer dime time?

    • C. dog e. doG

      Hey Flute Boy –
      Just think of all the diversity and choice there would be in skool lunches if parents had more school selections. Pretty rainbows and unicorns forever!
      – C. dog luvs his ethnically diverse diet

  • Rep Greg Hill

    Don’t they ALL get trophies?
    The problem in trying to reform this program by telling the Feds, “We can handle it ourselves thank you very much” is the overriding love of Federal Dollars. You can’t escape it. Even when it is pointed out to Republican Reps that the effort COSTS more than the RETURN, they can’t wipe the $$$$$ from their eyes.

    • C. dog e. doG

      Republicans, or RINO’s with $’s in their slop trough?
      – C. dog


      Why do you keep calling yourself “Rep” Greg Hill. Didn’t you just get your ass handed to you in the last election?

      • granitegrok

        Well lookee here, a “Teach” that doesn’t know an honorific when it kicks him in the ass

        • IWKAGGP

          Sorry to break it to you but this is one “Teach” that hasn’t been murdered .

          • C. dog e. doG

            Is it self-loathing that inspires such comments?

          • IWKAGGP

            Know, it’s the fact that you guys want teachers to be no more. And BTW, as for the “honorific point: Honorifics are usually used by people to address OTHER PEOPLE – not THEMSELVES! I don’t think you’d catch Dubya, Bubba, Papa Bush or Jimmy Carter declaring “Here comes the President of the United States” as they entered a room LOL! Talk about pompous!

          • granitegrok

            “you guys want teachers to be no more” – Wrong again.

            We want the self-centered, power hungry, taxpayer-teat sucking unions to stop being all about the Power and $$ and go back to REALLY being about the kids. All I have to point to is the Socialist leaning CTA hissy fit earlier this summer.

            We ALL value teachers – good teachers, that are innovative and dedicated that actually teach the subjects for which we pay them and not to do the “social justice” indoctrination that they have learned in Ed school and that we see coming from our kids after school. We want the kids to be proficient, and not be turned against their parents’ believes and standards. Until that happens, take that proverbial long walk / short pier. Until that happens, I want PARENTS to be in charge of their kids education, sending them where they believe the kids are best served.

            Let competition reign for our education dollars – let the public schools compete if they can. Public education used to mean educating kids; now it means keeping the endless negotiations with unions and large books of work rules.

          • IWKAGGP

            What’s the “socialist leaning CTA hissy fit” from earlier this summer?

            As for “social justice indoctrination” I wouldn’t know about that. I didn’t get any of that at the Hartt School of Music or at Johnson State College. I personally HATE the term “social justince.” I mean – shouldn’t JUSTICE be enough. If we have JUSTICE – who needs “social justice?”

            And I don’t know a single teacher who has tried to turn a student “against their parents’ believes and standards.” Or their “beliefs and standards.” But perhaps if you’re so worried about teachers doing so – it means that you’re not all that sure that your “believes and standards” are all that great????

            I think kids need to learn to think for themselves and not swallow propaganda – from teachers or parents.

          • C. dog e. doG

            Here’s a stumper, Danny Boy: why should there be any discussion of believes and values in Grate Government schools? Doesn’t that violate the separation of Church from State? Or, are you just a sucker for the publik bully pulpit?
            – C. dog

          • IWKAGGP

            So you don’t think that there’s any discussion of “values” in math classes?

          • C. dog e. doG

            Other than seeking the value of X or Y, seems outta place to me.
            – C. dog dividing by 0’s

          • granitegrok

            >> …or parents

            You just proved my point

          • C. dog e. doG

            Ditto, with one exception: you missed an opportunity to tweak the schoolmarm on his homonyms.
            – C. dog

          • C. dog e. doG

            Danny Boy –
            You being all schoolmarmy and such: know vs. no. You just dun a Bozo no-know.

            – C. dog :-)’s

          • IWKAGGP

            No – it’s the fact that you guys want teachers to be no more. And BTW, as
            for the “honorific point: Honorifics are usually used by people to
            address OTHER PEOPLE – not THEMSELVES! I don’t think you’d catch Dubya,
            Bubba, Papa Bush or Jimmy Carter declaring “Here comes the President of
            the United States” as they entered a room LOL! Talk about pompous!

          • granitegrok

            What a stupid, inane comment. Typical of a govt worker…

      • that to me sounds like some NEA sour grapes…What happened to, “We won…not angry….havin’ a beer!”?

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  • Late to the party…I often am. But one other aspect of the school lunch program is Fed enforcement of the monopoly. Schools have rules about what kids can and cannot eat on school time. For example, If I went to Burger King, purchased a meal for my daughter to drop it off to her, the food is not allowed in school because it violates their nutrition guidelines. When I packed my kids’ lunch from home, she had to be discrete about eating it because the lunch police might find the choices mommy and daddy make questionable. “The no fat kids” rule seems a little too late, here a fat kid, there a fat kid, everywhere a fat kid. Granted, I am a fat guy…(not like I used to be) but I also am middle-aged. (but was a slim kid…even accused of being malnourished).

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