Opinion
This picture of a school lunch tray was uploaded to the Facebook group photostream of "Nutrition Nannies," a group organized by Republican Rep. Steve King urging users to submit photos of their childrens This picture of a school lunch tray was uploaded to the Facebook group photostream of "Nutrition Nannies," a group organized by Republican Rep. Steve King urging users to submit photos of their childrens' lunch trays. From the group's website: "USDA's new school lunch guidelines are leaving our children hungry. "Tag" Nutrition Nannies in your pictures of your children's school lunch trays. Use this page as a forum to learn about and express your frustration about the new guidelines."  

Kids are rejecting school lunch mandates, adults should too

Photo of Karen Schroeder
Karen Schroeder
President, Advocates for Academic Freedom
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      Karen Schroeder

      Karen Schroeder is the President of Advocates for Academic Freedom, a member of the Wisconsin Educational Communications Board, an experienced public school teacher with an MA, and an educational consultant. She provides informational seminars to promote citizen involvement at local and state levels of the educational system. Ms. Schroeder provides testimony before legislative bodies regarding educational issues. She is frequently interviewed by radio personalities including Wisconsin’s Vicki McKenna.

During the 1950s, school lunches were prepared on site. Children enjoyed the smell of baking bread and roasted meats which wetted their appetites. Jell-O filled with fruit, hot dishes containing corn, green beans, and carrots, topped with tatter tots, sweet potatoes and ham smothered in raisin sauce, big chunks of chicken with gravy over mashed potatoes; creamed tuna on shoe string potatoes were among the favorite menus. All meals were served with vegetables and fruit. The menus were so popular many recipes were reprinted in local newspapers.

School boards across the United States are currently working on budgets and analyzing their expenditures. The cost of school lunches plays an important role in balancing them. The Rice Lake, Wisconsin, school district is a microcosm of districts across America. Their students are tossing the cauliflower and broccoli and turning their noses up at the offer of endless fruit and vegetables. The federal program requires schools to provide less protein, and all recipes used by the district must be approved by the federal government.

Corn, one of the few vegetables enjoyed by most children, was discouraged by the federal government because it is too high in carbohydrates. Some cooks wonder whether the real reason is that the federal government wants the corn to be used to dilute gasoline rather than feed our children.

Parents are complaining that their children are starving by the end of the school day. This is a typical consequence when the federal government takes control of anything. An inordinate amount of money is spent, but the goal is not met.

Of course, the real reason kids are hungry is that they aren’t as keen on their new federally-regulated diets as the First Lady, and one-size-fits-all regulations are unsuited for meeting their needs. American children ages five to eighteen are rejecting the new school lunch program, even as adults quake in fear of being punished with the loss of federal dollars.

The Rice Lake school district serves 2,320 students from kindergarten through grade twelve. The school board is hesitant to walk away from the $350,000 to $400,000 federal dollars they would lose if the district contracts with a private group to provide more child-friendly lunches. When the federal government enforces a policy through the selective disbursement of tax dollars, coercion is the result.

What has happened to the American adult? Why would we subjugate ourselves in this way? This level of government control angered the Founders so much that they left their homes, families, and country to travel to an unknown land to make their own decisions.

With confidence worthy of them, our school board members should do what is right for the children and tell the federal government to stay out of their food-service programs. They should tell the federal government to respect the fact that Americans care about the good health of our children and can manage without their help.