After the federal government’s school-lunch standards were overhauled in 2012 in what I’m sure was a very well-intentioned effort to institute healthier habits in America’s children and help stave off of the country’s growing childhood obesity problem, it didn’t take long for the calorie-intake and portion restrictions in the new code to crash and burn spectacularly. Healthy eating habits being the highly individualized needs and preferences that they are, kids and parents quickly began complaining that students were not able to get enough to eat at lunchtime, and in some districts, school-lunch participation began to drop as more and more students started bringing their own lunches to school. The USDA soon implemented a temporary stay on the rules, and they just made the changes permanent — seeing as how the restrictions were never very well thought out in the first place. NPR explains:
Why? Because in some cases, schools had to limit healthy foods — such as sandwiches served on whole-grain bread or salads topped with grilled chicken — due to restrictions the U.S. Department of Agriculture set on the amount of grains and protein that could be served at meal-time. …
The USDA temporarily lifted the restrictions following many complaints. And, now, according to a new announced this week, the change will be made permanent.
The School Nutrition Association, a group made up of school food directors, is applauding the decision. The group says the overly restrictive limits on grains and protein worked against them.
For instance, some schools could not offer daily sandwich selections because the two slices of bread exceeded weekly grain limits. And in some cases, salads topped with low-fat cheese or other sources of lean protein exceeded protein limits.
Gee, whiz. Like so many other attempts to socially engineer top-down virtue, this latest instance of the one-size-fits-all, nobler-than-thou regulatory approach to problem-solving not merely failed to find a workable solution, but caused another problem in the meantime on which the USDA has now had to retract. Who could’ve seen that coming?