LA school district lunch program spawns thriving junk food black market
posted at 11:57 am on January 21, 2012 by Howard Portnoy
It appears we have all been selling the Obama administration short—or at least its de facto “food czar,” Michelle Obama. Her threats to wrest the salt shakers from the cold dead hands of dissenting Americans and force manufacturers of empty calorie foods to go on “an advertising diet” may sound intrusive. But now a picture is emerging that reveals that the First Lady is being intrusive like a fox.
The Los Angeles Times reports that an underground cadre of junk food bootleggers have been doing a bang-up business selling “forbidden fruits”—candy, chips, corn dogs, chicken nuggets, and more—to the 650,000 students enrolled in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Despite Mrs. Obama’s efforts to cram vegetarian curries and quinoa salads down the kiddies’ throats at lunchtime, students have rejected these alternatives to burgers and fries while—and this is key—developing a healthy streak of self-reliance by learning to “forage” for lunch. At the same time, the failed enterprise has put legions of black market junk food peddlers to work. It is the American dream twice over!
Two of those teenage self-starters, Iraides Renteria and Mayra Gutierrez, told the Times in a separate story that they don’t even bother lining up anymore for the “nasty, rotty stuff” served at Van Nuys High School at lunchtime. Instead the girls, both juniors, make a meal of several bags of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and soda smuggled onto school grounds in their backpacks. “This is our daily lunch,” Iraides is quoted as saying. “We’re eating more junk food now than last year.”
In response to the mass rejection of the healthful alternatives the school district was ordered to feed its students, its food services director, Dennis Barrett, announced that some of the “more exotic dishes” (read: lentil and brown rice cutlets, and quinoa and black-eyed pea salads) will be phased out in favor of burgers.
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