School Lunch

The Great School Lunch Fight Now With SCIENCE!

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School lunches have probably been fraught with anxiety since the first caveman academy opened its doors. As firm believers in school choice, we at Reason we support maximum choice not only in where (read: if) kids go to school but in what kids are allowed to eat and drink at whatever school they attend (even home schools!). Being a kid is awful enough without having to bow and scrape to the dictates of the First Lady or Jamie Oliver or whatever Lord Commissioner McFussbudget happens to be acting as chef de cuisine for the nation's K-12 gulag system at a given moment.

Abby W. Schachter highlights the latest skirmish in what she aptly calls "The Great School Lunch War." Schacter notes that a recent issue of JAMA Pediatrics declares a soft war on mom's home cooking when it leaves the hearth and pass through the metal detector at the local elementary school:

According to researchers Michelle Caruso and Karen Cullen, since home-packed lunches do not conform to rigorous government standards, they aren't as healthful as the food from the school cafeteria. Lunches from home tend to have more salt and sugar and fewer vegetables and whole grains, they argue.

Of course, the authors accept the premise that a low-fat, lower-sodium diet is the only way to eat well and they have no idea whether students

might consume more vegetables at other meals besides lunch. But no matter, now there is evidence in a respected journal that argues against parental involvement in their kids' food. Let the state-run schools take care of it, the study authors seem to be suggesting, because there is just no way to force parents to abide by government standards. And in fact there are several schools that have done just that by banning food from home.

If the primary purpose of public school was to guarantee the health and nutrition of students, then the only problem with the national school lunch program would be the debatable science behind the dietary assumptions. It is simply not true that controlling for sodium and fat will ensure perfect nutrition for every person. The human body is too complex and our nutrition too interconnected with our emotional, psychological and genetic make-up to know for certain the causal link between what we consume and our overall health.

More here.

Read more Reason on school lunches here.

Related: Watch "The Case of Jamie Oliver" and his "food revolution" that failed:

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  1. Jamie Oliver is a douche. The end.

    1. Whenever a person like Jamie Oliver starts his advice by calling people names is when most people quite listiening

      1. Speaking of names, Jamie Oliver has apparently christened his four children as follows:

        Daisy Boo Pamela Oliver, Poppy Honey Rosie Oliver, Buddy Bear Maurice Oliver, Petal Blossom Rainbow Oliver

        …precisely the type of pecker I want telling me how to eat.

        (on the flipside, Penn Jillette sorta went for broke in naming his children, as well)

        1. Moxie CrimeFighter Jillette and Zolten Penn Jillette.

          1. I have a friend who named her first daughter Moxie. I think it’s a great name, and very New England (where her husband is from), because of the soda.

            Anyways, turns out Moxie is the retiring one, and her younger sister is the one with the actual moxie.

            1. I went to high school with a girl named Sunshine who was a bitch, and Chastity who was a slut. My best friend had a college class with a girl named Minerva who had no idea what her name meant. Good thing I watched a lot of Simpsons back then and was desensitized to irony.

        2. Does Oliver want his son to hunt him down and kill him when he grows up?

  2. The human body is too complex and our nutrition too interconnected with our emotional, psychological and genetic make-up to know for certain the causal link between what we consume and our overall health.

    It’s almost like she’s saying individuals have individualized needs! But that’s unpossible – everyone is a member of some homogenous group or other!

  3. How did they hold down the Wookie to shave her?

  4. Lunches from home tend to have more salt and sugar and fewer vegetables and whole grains, they argue

    Uh, yeah, except for the part about sugar, that’s precisely why my son gets a packed lunch full of protein, fat, and veggies, if there’s room. And in spite of his cruel mother’s and my abuse, he towers about his portly, cavity-ridden, allergy-plagued classmates.
    Have these people even seen a school lunch lately? Have they seen the roly poly kids that eat them?
    I’m bracing for the day when they send home a nasty gram about my son’s lunch missing “healthy whole grains”. That’ll be the homeschooling trigger for me.

    1. You will be receiving such a letter now that I’ve informed the grain lobby about your child abuse!!

  5. It is simply not true that controlling for sodium and fat will ensure perfect nutrition for every person.

    That will not ensure perfect nutrition for anyone. Sodium and saturated fat are both necessary and harmless. Replacing those fat calories with carbs is pretty much a blueprint for being overweight. Color me shocked that government is still pushing their anti-science bullshit.

  6. the authors accept the premise that a low-fat, lower-sodium diet is the only way to eat well

    WTF. Did I just travel back in time? What year is this????

  7. Some parents just suck at nutrition. That’s no excuse for state intervention, but yes, they can and do suck. At our family holiday party yesterday, with a wide variety of fresh cooked foods, one relative brought fucking LUNCHABLES complaining that the little monsters would refuse anything else. I mean…fuck. They’re doomed.

  8. Has nobody questioned what we do if handing nutritional issues off to the schools, has the same effect on children eating that the rest of school has on children learning?

    Mass anorexia!

    1. You assume kids learn nothing in public schools, but they do. They may not learn the three Rs, but they learn a whole bunch of bullshit you don’t want them to. A better analogy may be skinny-fat.

      1. So I was sitting on the DIL’s porch while babysitting grand daughter #2 and I watched the local public school kids walking home (DIL lives in town and the school is only a couple of blocks away). The kids were the physical inverse of what I remember from my childhood–one skinny kid being picked on by a dozen fatties.

  9. According to researchers Michelle Caruso and Karen Cullen, since home-packed lunches do not conform to rigorous government standards, they aren’t as healthful as the food from the school cafeteria. Lunches from home tend to have more salt and sugar and fewer vegetables and whole grains, they argue.

    and this is the nanny state and progressives in a nutshell – you, average citizen, are simply too stupid to properly care for your child. Therefore, we must either tell you how to do it or do it for you.

    There were few things my mother enjoyed more than making sure my brother and I were poorly fed, he said sarcastically.

    1. I wonder what the progressive stance would be if someone was packing lunch for their kids, let’s say with lots of veggies and meats and nuts, and those kids were fit and energetic and alert? My guess is they would force that parent to take the school lunch option in the interest of “proper nutrition” and “fairness” and “equality”. At which point the kid would turn fat, lazy and depressed.

      But, you know – INTENSHUNZ!

      1. It is bureaucratic OCD. Following approved procedures is the more important goal than actually achieving the purportef goal. They get twitchy otherwise.

      2. Check ur OMNIVORE PRIVILEGE!

  10. According to researchers Michelle Caruso and Karen Cullen, since home-packed lunches do not conform to rigorous government standards, they aren’t as healthful as the food from the school cafeteria. Lunches from home tend to have more salt and sugar and fewer vegetables and whole grains, they argue.

    You know, I have to wonder at times if these buffoons think beyond their intentions and their little confabs.

    I’m sure the poached flounder with brown rice and sauteed broccoli seems just wonderful at the convention. Now, check it out when produced by cafeteria ladies for 400 kids.

    Those school lunches are only as nutritious as you can get kids to eat them. Otherwise, the kids are going to eat Mickey D’s after school and skip the crap the school is telling them is so nutritious.

  11. The problem with public health “science” is that the statistical techniques are really, really poor.

    Case in point: the “fracking causes birth defects” studies use a measure of birth defects as the dependent variable and distance to a fracking well-head as the SOLE explanatory variable (at least in the studies I’ve seen).

    Peer review is irrelevant if the peers are ignorant of basic econometrics, which is obviously the case precisely because the studies were published.

    I’m sure the same is true is most nutritional studies as well although there are some that sequester subjects in hospitals and have a treatment and control group to determine the effectiveness of a given diet.

  12. Don’t forget the incredible waste. I have a friend who recently retired from the public school system. It killed her to see the kids throw out tons of unopened food, day after day after day.

    Kids get free food everyday, yet they don’t put any value on it. Who could have foreseen that consequence?

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  14. Reminds me of The Mouse That Roared, in which the American POW demands that the standards set by the Geneva Convention be met in serving him food, so he winds up with slop on a metal plate, while the rest dine elegantly.

  15. I think we should have all the would-be kings on the food pyramid gather on live T.V one summer evening. One by one, after tearful, prideful speeches they would be led to the feeding room, where a pack of hungry kids would stream out and be served their nutritious bones.

    The ultimate sacrifice!

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