New school lunch and snack regulations urged by First Lady Michelle Obama are sending costs through the roof. As’s Kyle Olson reports:

The School Nutrition Association is claiming the new school lunch and snack regulations are causing administrative costs to explode and wants Congress to take action.

“The cost of meeting new federal nutrition standards for school meals will triple in Fiscal Year 2015,” according to the SNA.

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that the new school meal standards will force local school districts and states to absorb $1.22 billion in new food, labor and administrative costs in Fiscal Year 2015 alone, up from $362 million in additional costs in FY 2014,” the association notes, adding its own emphasis. …

“School nutrition professionals have led the way in promoting improved diets for students and are committed to serving healthy meals,” says SNA CEO Patricia Montague.

“Despite all of these efforts, fewer students are eating school meals, and the escalating costs of meeting overly prescriptive regulations are putting school meal programs in financial jeopardy.”

“USDA or Congress must act to provide greater flexibility under the rules before school meal programs become a financial liability for the school districts they serve,” the CEO says in the press release.

To put this cost into perspective, Olson reports that:

The additional cost is the equivalent of the average pay of about 23,000 high school teachers.

There are better ways to make sure children don’t go hungry at school—without intrusive expensive government.

Virtually every school has a PTA or other similar parent volunteer organization. Likewise community philanthropies abound. Food banks nationwide help combat hunger every day.

Why not coordinate existing efforts with local grocery stores, restaurants, and food distributors to prepare healthy—and tasty—breakfast and lunches for children in need? An even more personalized approach would be a voluntary breakfast or lunch buddy program, in which students and their parents could partner with children and families in need to prepare healthy meals.

Such an enterprise could forge friendships, strengthen local communities, and help teach children a valuable life lessons about gratitude for what they and their families have, and the importance of personally pitching in to meet a need and make a positive difference.