For a long time, we have cautioned that population-level policymaking can lead to unintended consequences and that students’ tastes are picky and that school lunches need to take them into account. That hasn’t stopped beverage banners and cupcake cops, but students’ negative reactions to newly enacted school lunch rules don’t surprise us.
The new rules placed tight national restrictions on the contents of school lunches, both in their composition and calorie content. There’s nothing wrong with schools trying to teach healthy eating and providing healthy meals, but setting overly burdensome policy at the national level has caused problems. Students, especially student-athletes, find that the 750-850 calorie range for high school-age kids is not sufficient. Farm-state teens have been the most riled up, as they often add labor-intensive chores that burn lots of calories by themselves to sports practices. (You might say they aren’t making the Small Choices that lead to Big Bodies.)
Additionally, the rules mandated what could be served, and so compared with the old system, more food is going into the trash (a predictable result). To appease rumbling stomachs, students are resorting even to the bane of food scolds everywhere: sports drinks. The only people who seem to like the new mandates are the dietary central planners at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
Right now, the mandates just apply to students eating school lunch, so only they suffer the bad consequences of one-size-fits-all feeding. But, like our Senior Research Analyst told the Daily Caller, menu mandates are on the activist agenda for everyone.
There’s more, too: As we told The Oklahoman, there’s a movement to declare food “addictive” like drugs in spite of evidence that it isn’t and from there ban everything from buffets to food in the workplace. Hopefully the lessons of the kids singing “We Are Hungry” will be learned by national bureaucrats, but we wouldn’t count on it.