A Black Market in Cheetos in L.A. Schools


This story about the spectacular failure of new, healthier school lunches from the Los Angeles Times is getting a lot of play. As you might might expect (but the school district apparently didn't) 16-year-olds who have previously been on all-pizza diets aren't necessarily going to dive right in to heaping helpings of quinoa salad:

Many of the meals are being rejected en masse. Participation in the school lunch program has dropped by thousands of students. Principals report massive waste, with unopened milk cartons and uneaten entrees being thrown away. Students are ditching lunch, and some say they're suffering from headaches, stomach pains and even anemia. At many campuses, an underground market for chips, candy, fast-food burgers and other taboo fare is thriving….

Iraides Renteria and Mayra Gutierrez don't even bother to line up. Iraides said the school food previously made her throw up, and Mayra calls it "nasty, rotty stuff." So what do they eat? The juniors pull three bags of Flamin' Hot Cheetos and soda from their backpacks.

"This is our daily lunch," Iraides says. "We're eating more junk food now than last year."

School lunch is a reasonable place for do-gooders to try to introduce healthy habits (taking the existence of public schools, federal school lunch programs, etc. as givens). But this is a classic study in the unintended consequences for "for your own good" policies. 

Via Wonkblog.