Perhaps the most overlooked frustration of any young parent occurs at the dinner table: you try with all your might to make your child eat his broccoli before allowing him dessert. Your kid, as stubborn as you probably once were, steadfastly refuses.
The showdown lasts for what seems like hours. In the end, one of two things happens: either World War III breaks out, or your child begrudgingly – and slowly – chews a couple of bites of his greens as a bare minimum means of reaching the chocolatey promised land. Regardless of the outcome, you can rest assured of more of the same tomorrow night. Parenting is the best.
Now, imagine the government stepping in and doing the same to your kid at his school lunch. Five years ago, Congress tried just that, passing the Healthy Hungry-Free Kids Act, a childhood obesity-reduction bill championed by First Lady Michelle Obama. Since the bill’s passage, the Department of Agriculture has offered no less than 4,700 guiding documents on precisely how to make it possible for kids to eat their peas.
So, how’s it going five years later? Are kids gleefully complying with the government’s war on tasty treats?
Of course they aren’t. Patrik Jonsson of the Christian Science Monitor sums it up:
Five years after Congress passed the Healthy Hungry-Free Kids Act… participation in school lunches across the US has declined by 4 percent – or 1.5 million kids – food wastage has gone up, and growing numbers of lunch rooms are operating in the red.
Troubling figures, to be sure. But it gets even wilder. During a House Subcommittee hearing earlier this year, one school administrator testified with regard to a particularly notable unintended consequence of the bill:
“Perhaps the most colorful example in my district is that students have been caught bringing–and even selling–salt, pepper, and sugar in school to add taste to perceived bland and tasteless cafeteria food,” said John S. Payne, the president of Blackford County School Board of Trustees in Hartford City, Indiana.
You read that right. This government program has turned America’s children into low-level drug dealers. Excusing that the salt-and-pepper black market is a great lesson in economics, the fact that America’s kids are learning at an early age how to subvert government regulation is either horrifying or darkly amusing, depending on one’s perspective.
With that in mind, what do you think? Should the government regulate how your kids meet their caloric needs, or is this yet another example of out of touch bureaucrats imposing a one-size-fits-all solution to a much more Super Sized problem? Take a deeper dive by visiting our Role of Government page, and as always, let us know what you think on Facebook.