Federal School Lunch Crackdown Leads To Black Market For Salt Shakers And Potato Chips

school lunch

Regulations are static. Markets are dynamic.

…the [Government Accountability Office] found that many students are simply bypassing the new dictums by sneaking salt and pepper shakers onto campus, even creating a clandestine market for potato chips. Technology has added pizzazz to the age-old lunch line complaints. Some students are Tweeting sad-looking lunch trays with the hashtag #ThanksMichelleObama.

“There’s a black market,” says Julie Gunlock, who directs the Culture of Alarmism Project at the Independent Women’s Forum in Washington, joking about “kids with trench coats lined with potato chips and other things they can’t get at school.”

“God bless innovation and entrepreneurialism, but that’s not the goal of reforming the school lunch program,” says Ms. Gunlock. “It was intended to get kids to eat their veggies because they like them, but instead it’s created a culture where kids are disgusted by the food because they’re not allowed to flavor it. So, it’s had an opposite effect, and created a much bigger problem.”

Is anyone surprised?

And really, doesn’t this illustrate the absurdity of government policies which try to mandate a choice on a group of people? The federal government, mostly as a part of Michelle Obama’s war on fat kids, has been trying to get school kids to have healthier diets. Which is generally a laudable goal.

But they’re doing it not by inspiring the kids choose to be healthier, but by making absurd mandates for school lunch menus. And – surprise! – it’s not working.

Not just because kids are creating a sort of black market for tastier, if less healthy, snacks but also because the school lunch mandates do very little to prepare kids for the real world where unhealthy foods are readily available and an easy choice to make.

Unless we’re prepared to start regulating what sort of dietary choices adults can make – and places like New York and San Francisco are trying – maybe we should recognize that teaching someone to make the right choice is a better way to go than forcing them to make it.

Besides, why in the world do we need to be making school lunch policy in Washington DC? Our local school boards are more than capable, I think, of implementing school lunch policy that balances thoughtful nutritional considerations with the need for appealing meal students will be willing to eat.