- The Washington Times - Monday, April 14, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Brandon had a simple question for school authorities: “Every day, I pick my boy up from school and he says he’s hungry. What are you feeding these kids at school?”

A D.C. father of a first-grader, Brandon, like parents everywhere, doesn’t know this, but every school day authorities are trashing the food choices made in Washington by bureaucrats (and first lady Michelle Obama).

Tacos sans cheese and sour cream, mashed potatoes without gravy and spaghetti without garlic bread.

Chicken salad for young kids.

Really?

See, the food police are cracking down on food options and trying to dull kids’ taste buds. Moreover, they are trying to accomplish what parents have forever failed to pull off — and that’s getting kids to eat foods they do not like.

So instead of serving foods they do like, including french fries, some school authorities participating in the taxpayer-funded National School Lunch Program have decided to make smart choices on their own — and that No. 1 choice is to opt out of the program.

One Illinois superintendent, of the Monticello School District, recently lamented to The News-Gazette that “The guidelines require us to serve items like three orange vegetables a week. Can you name three orange vegetables?” said Vic Zimmerman. “Squash, sweet potatoes, they wouldn’t eat them. Kids like carrots but not three times a week. You’ve got to serve them, but the kids won’t eat them, so there’s a huge waste of food.”

And money.

Local, state and federal dollars help cover free and reduced meals for underprivileged school kids, and they help subsidize full-price meals for other kids.

The problem is not the subsidy, though; it’s the food police and the waste.

Fat, sodium, sugar, processed sauces — all the things that make food tasty — are no-nos. And no french fries, no P&B on plain white bread.

Small “Wonder” the bakery can never again claim to help “build strong bodies 12 ways.” The food police mandate whole-grain breads.

Even the yogurt served at schools has to be “healthy.”

A cultural delight like cannoli, or anything sweet, rich and chocolaty? Forget about it.

“Menus typically include a sandwich, milk or juice box, a chicken drumstick and a roll and fruit, or chicken or egg salad and a piece of fruit,” said a D.C. school worker who did not want to be named. “The kids might eat the fresh fruit and drink the juice. We have to throw the food away every day. One kid will say they don’t like so-and-so, and the other kids kick in. Like a chain reaction.

“Then one student might ask for another piece of fruit because they’re still hungry, and we have to tell them to wait and see.

“The food is fresh and delivered up to three times a day,” she continued. “But the kids don’t like it and they don’t eat it.”

From coast to coast, school authorities are complaining of kids complaining of a loss of energy because of too little food and a loss of money because more and more kids are not buying meals.

Even liberal New York City made the news when the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake district opted out of the federal program after losing an estimated $100,000 in lunch money in one school year, which reportedly was enough to pay for one teaching position.

Mrs. Obama had good intentions by encouraging kids to think nutrition before they chow down, but with kids in search of tastier food and more options, and school jurisdictions looking to save money and not waste food, now is as good a time as any for local communities to take a leap.

The 1946 appropriations gesture to reform the federal school feeding is, after all these years, proving to be a government boondoggle of red tape, too costly and wasteful spending.

Brandon’s son should not be hungry after being in school all day.

Deborah Simmons can be reached at [email protected]

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