Healthy kids? Unhealthy results

Mass quantities of unappetizing food rejected by students and trashed. Misspent money. No real progress against childhood obesity after nearly five years. All are reasons why Congress should decline a second helping of first lady Michelle Obama’s signature school lunch policy when it’s up for reauthorization in September.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 funds the $12-billion-a-year National School Lunch Program and provides $3 billion annually for school breakfasts. But what’s served to nearly 32 million children is so often so off-putting “that much food is thrown away,” according to Chicago-area food writer Julie Kelly and Jeff Stier, a fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research, writing in The Wall Street Journal.

The link between genuine need and “free” school meals has been wastefully perverted by allowing entire school districts to get them. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., estimates such improper payments cost taxpayers $2.7 billion in the last school year. And despite good intentions, childhood obesity rates haven’t declined significantly since 2010, Ms. Kelly and Mr. Stier note.

Nor, they say, is Mrs. Obama’s healthy-eating push instilling healthy attitudes:

“Feeding children food they don’t want while supervising every bite fosters defiance among students and an inability to make choices for themselves.” That’s one more reason why Congress should say “Enough!” this September.

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

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