A month ago I wrote about the latest school-lunch nonsense and included this quote from a newspaper article:
There will be more whole grains on school lunch menus this year, along with a wider selection of fruits and vegetables and other healthy options. The challenge is getting children to eat them.
Yup, that’s turning out to be a challenge, all right. Here’s how kids reacted in a district in Wisconsin:
On Monday, 70% of the 830 Mukwonago High students who normally buy lunch boycotted cafeteria food to protest what they see as an unfair “one size fits all thing.” Middle schoolers in the district also boycotted their school lunches, with counts down nearly half Monday. They’re not alone in their frustration; schools across the country are reporting students who are unhappy with the lunch offerings.
On a positive note, the students are (I hope) learning a valuable lesson: a “one size fits all thing” is what you get whenever big-government types get involved. Mayor Bloomberg in New York isn’t telling the small fraction of the population whose blood pressure is affected by sodium to restrict salt. Nope, he wants to mandate a low-sodium diet for everyone who buys packaged food in his kingdom … er, city. The USDA doesn’t tell people to eat a high-carbohydrate diet unless they happen to be diabetic. Nope, a high-carb diet is right for everyone. One size fits all.
But of course, students aren’t all one size, as the article noted:
“A freshman girl who weighs 100 pounds can eat this lunch and feel completely full, maybe even a little bloated,” said Joey Bougneit, a Mukwonago senior. But Blohm [mentioned earlier in the article] is a 6-foot-3-inch, 210-pound linebacker.
I remember watching the guys on my high school’s football team eat lunch. They piled food on their plates and went back for seconds or dessert. Well, go figure. They lifted weights or practiced in the morning, then had practice again after school. Those practices were grueling. They had a tough coach who led them to the state finals, even though they were the underdogs throughout the playoffs. (They lost in the championship game, dangit.) If they’d been limited to 850 calories for lunch, as the new federal guidelines dictate, I can imagine the headline in the school paper:
Newly Svelte Football Team Loses Five Straight
Sure, there was a lot of junk on the menu when I was in high school. I wouldn’t recommend corn dogs and pizza to student athletes or anyone else. But we’re not going to produce lean, healthy kids by forcing them to eat the low-fat, calorie-restricted meals the nanny-staters have decided is good for them. They’ll just eat more later, bring their own lunches, or flat-out rebel, as they did in Wisconsin.
Another school in Connecticut has already decided roll back some of the federal guidelines, thanks to complaints by students:
The new school year has barely begun, but there’s already been one “dropout” at Staples High School. No, it’s not a student throwing in the towel just weeks into the academic cycle, but new dietary rules governing how sandwiches are made in the Staples cafeteria that — after a chorus of student objections — have been dropped.
Despite what may have been the federal Department of Agriculture’s best intentions, the guidelines to promote healthier eating implemented at the start of the year were on the menu only a few days.
Well, government officials always have the best of intentions when they institute stupid policies, don’t they? But despite those fine intentions, here’s what the students wanted:
School officials reassessed the policy and opted to put more meat into it after listening to students’ complaints.
Yup. The students wanted more meat on their sandwiches. More meat and more cheese.
“They were charging the same price for a quarter of what we were getting,” said Devon Lowman, 17, a Staples senior who organized a petition among students that called for changes in the sandwich policy.
Last year, he said, for $4 students got “as much meat and as much cheese and other toppings as you wanted on sandwiches,” as well as a choice from eight kinds of bread. “What it had come to was only three choices of bread (and) two slices of meat.”
The two breads that were not verbotten were – you guessed it – healthywholegrain breads. The purpose of limiting meat and cheese in school lunches is to limit fat. So we’ve got calorie-limited meals based on grains, fruits and vegetables, with restrictions on meat, cheeses and other foods that provide both fat and protein. Care to take a wild guess what the geniuses in government named this program?
The new regulations are part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which was recently enacted.
“Uh … excuse me, could I please have more meat on my sandwich?”
“No. That would violate the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.”
“But I’m still hungry when I eat these sandwiches. I really want more meat.”
“I’m sorry, but you’ll just have to be hungry. Giving you more meat would violate the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.”
The good news is that the principal in Connecticut listened to the students’ complaints and changed school policy. The bad news is that a lot other principals probably won’t.