May 22 2012
School Lunch Opt-Out
Vicki E. Alger
Keep Food Legal executive director Baylen Linnekin suggests opting out of school lunches in celebration of Food Revolution Day, which was last Saturday. In case—like me—you missed it FRD is the brainchild of British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, who wants “to get the world to focus on food issues and rally our efforts to bring food education back into schools.”
The USDA, for its part, is bringing new, $3.2 billion, government meal standards back to school later this year. Expect heaping helpings of politics and cost but not a lot of substance. As Linnekin points out in a recent article for Reason:
If you’re one of those who thought all this talk about the National School Lunch Program had translated into better food, think again. Contrary to any visions you may have of expensive reforms leading to school kitchens serving as virtual clearinghouses for fresh fruits and vegetables, that just isn’t the case. … [S]pecial interests help define foods standards for school lunches. Echoing the Reagan Administration’s declaration of ketchup as a vegetable, Congress recently declared that pizza (because of its tomato sauce and the tomato and institutional frozen pizza lobbies) counts as a vegetable. …[F]ood served in public school cafeterias has—along with prison food—long been one of the best arguments against the singular notion that big, mean corporations are responsible for all of the food problems we face in America. After all, public-school lunches are government creations. They’re subsidized by government, provided by government, served by government, and paid for by government. And they’re often gross, unhealthy, and wasteful.
The better solution? As my colleague and IWF Women for Food Freedom project director Julie Gunlock recommends, “Parents, not the government, should be the food police.”