Remember when a lot of us predicted this would happen? And advocates were dismissive? WSJ reportage:
A federal law that aims to curb childhood obesity means that, in dozens of states, bake sales must adhere to nutrition requirements that could replace cupcakes and brownies with fruit cups and granola bars. … The restrictions that took effect in July stem from the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act championed by first lady Michelle Obama and her “Let’s Move!” campaign. …
[The law] allowed for “infrequent” fundraisers, and states were allowed to decide how many bake sales they would have that didn’t meet nutrition standards. …
While about half the states have taken advantage of exceptions, given the political pressure, the trend is toward narrowing or eliminating them. Texas, for example, has done away with a former variance that allowed three fundraisers a year selling forbidden foods. Among the most drearily predictable results: schools are shifting more toward pre-portioned processed food, which has standardized calorie and nutrition content, and avoiding the homemade and informal.
P.S. Meanwhile, a Washington Post article suggests that because of the narrowing exceptions noted above, because kids can still distribute “order forms for sweets such as Girl Scout cookies” (as opposed to the cookies themselves) during school hours, because after-hours athletic events and the like aren’t covered, and so forth, there really is no story here and critics are being unreasonable.
A House panel has voted to allow school districts to opt out temporarily from much-protested nutrition standards [Washington Post, earlier] While the Obama administration and its allies have chosen to blame Big Food for the reverse, the capital has not been short on firsthand testimony from school lunch directors about thrown-away offerings, declining student participation and other woes. [Washington Post, School Nutrition Association]
More: Nick Gillespie/Time (“if we can’t trust our schools to figure out how best to fill their students’ stomachs, why the hell are we forcing our children to attend such institutions in the first place?”), Baylen Linnekin (“She’s right. The House GOP is playing politics. They’re just not doing it as pervasively—or as deftly—as she and her colleagues are.”)
She talked about her new book The Up Side of Down, on failure, which has many policy implications (and quotes me on “blamestorming”); her examples included Hollywood production cost overruns, New Coke, L.A.’s healthy school lunch program, and (in the book) Avenue Q. Arnold Kling contributed very illuminating comments, and my Cato colleague Dalibor Rohac moderated. More here (including audio podcast version) and at Arnold Kling’s site.
A manufacturer of Greek yogurt “paid $80,000 to Cornerstone Government Affairs to lobby Congress on its behalf, according to federal records.” And now Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York — upstate being a leading center of production for the premium product — has made sure it will be included in federally prescribed school lunches, even in places where local budgets and tastes might not have generated much demand for it. [The Hill; Ira Stoll]
P.S. And plenty of bad GOP behavior on the farm bill too, notes my colleague Mike Tanner.
I spoke this morning at University of Maryland Hillel on the paradoxes of the federal school lunch program, on a panel with Julie Gunlock of the Independent Women’s Forum. You can read more about the school lunch program here.
I opine on the federal school lunch (and breakfast, and after-snack, and weekend and summer and vacation-feeding) program as part of a mini-symposium on food policy arranged by Baylen Linnekin at Reason. The account of New York’s surplus of school-feeding over science-education specialists is here. Related from Linnekin: “10 Federal Food-Policy Issues Obama and Romney Should Discuss.”
Also on school lunches: Calorie cap not so welcome for poorer kids ill-fed at home [Bettina Elias Siegel] And from Falun, Sweden: “Lunch lady slammed for food that is ‘too good’.” [The Local]
One of the Obama administration’s signature federal initiatives has been the First Lady’s campaign for a redesigned federal school lunch program, with more centralized prescription from Washington aimed at healthier and more natural fare. Now the results are beginning to come in, and they aren’t pretty, as Baylen Linnekin documents: skimpy calorie counts that leave energy-burning athletes desperately hungry, food wastage as unpalatable fruit gets tossed into garbage bins, contraband chocolate syrup aimed at making skim milk palatable, and in Wisconsin mass student boycotts of food that’s “worse tasting, smaller sized and higher priced.” More: Patrick Richardson/PJ Media, Althouse. Earlier here (new rules discourage scratch-cooking), here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, etc. More: “This year, we’ll be hungry by 2:00…. We would eat our pencils.” [Caroline May, Daily Caller]