There is no such thing as a free (school) lunch

The News & Observer tries to do “cute” in their editorial on school lunch requirements.

Well, maybe it’s no way to talk to adults. But they’ve got it coming. So to those members of Congress who want to relax sensible government requirements on school lunch regulations: shame on you. And step up here so we can introduce you to the business end of this paddle.

Republicans are leading the way in trying to rescind Agriculture Department regulations on school lunches that are aimed at reducing sodium, requiring healthier vegetables and taking foods that can be decidedly unhealthy such as pizza and french fries off school menus. And with childhood obesity at epidemic proportions, why in the world would Congress move in this direction?

So, we have the usual set up: an enlightened government body proposes new regulations that are opposed by evil Republicans who, if successful, will perpetuate an epidemic that the government, if granted enough power and money, can control.

Of course, the N&O editors characterize Republican opposition as a product of back-room deals with government lobbyists and an ideological objection to all government intervention.  I have no doubt that the former plays a prominent role in the regulation approval process, but Democrats play those games too.

As for the latter, the N&O editors leave out a pretty important aspect of the debate.  Republicans are worried about the substantial costs of implementing the USDA recommendations on school lunches.  According to estimates, initial changes would require an additional $6.8 billion or so.  For this reason, the American Association of School Administrators, the National School Boards Association, and the Council of the Great City Schools joined Republicans’ opposition to the new regulations. They recognize that there is no such thing as a free school lunch regulation.

Terry Stoops / Vice President for Research and Director of Education Studies

Terry Stoops is the Vice President for Research and Director of Education Studies at the John Locke Foundation. Before joining the Locke Foundation, he worked as the progra...

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