School Lunch Controversy Shows Problems of Centralized Planning
Posted by John LaPlante on Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Students in Sharon Springs, Kansas, have produced a YouTube sensation mocking school-lunch guidelines laid down by the federal government.In the video, students collapse from hunger while playing school sports, or even sitting in a classroom. Critics say the "Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act" is leaving students hungry by  limiting the calories they can get, and restricting their intake of protein, fats, and carbohydrates. Even so, some students and school officials say the problem, if it exists at all, is overblown. Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Fowler) has introduced legislation to overturn the law. He says it represents "a perfect example of what is wrong with government: misguided inputs, tremendous waste and unaccomplished goals."

He is right about that, but the controversy also illustrates the dangers of centralization. Most schools participate in the federal school lunch program, and many even often breakfast, all on money taken from local communities, cycled through Washington DC, and then returned to communities, but with federal strings attached.

As the saying goes, he who pays the piper calls the tune. Or to update that, he who buys the lunch gets to decide what goes on the cafeteria tray.

What should we do? Perhaps it's time to do away with the federal program, let states and local governments make up the difference (if they wish), and stop the idea that everything, including what goes on a high school student's lunch, should be influenced by the federal government.

Would that mean hungry kids? If the video is any indication, the new school lunch program is already producing hungry kids.