Whoopi Goldberg got some airplay on conservative sites the other day for pointing out something I’d already learned by the time I was 13 — Leftism is great in theory, but it doesn’t work so well in the real world.
To that “duh” moment (although I doubt it will convert her from worshiping at the Leftist altar), I offer another bit of hard evidence, in the form of the “healthy” lunch program that the L.A. Unified School District has implemented to huzzahs from the feds. It turns out that making “healthy” food for 650,000 kids a day, while it looks great on paper, doesn’t work in the real world:
For many students, L.A. Unified’s trailblazing introduction of healthful school lunches has been a flop. Earlier this year, the district got rid of chocolate and strawberry milk, chicken nuggets, corn dogs, nachos and other food high in fat, sugar and sodium. Instead, district chefs concocted such healthful alternatives as vegetarian curries and tamales, quinoa salads and pad Thai noodles.
There’s just one problem: 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.
The new menus are in line with the federal government’s updated dietary guidelines, which recommend, for instance, that fruits and vegetables make up half the plate. L.A. Unified has virtually eliminated canned and frozen fruits and vegetables, boosting spending on fresh produce from $2 million in 2006 to $20 million in 2010.
For months before introducing the new fare, the district held community taste tests and collected 300,000 comments — 75% of which were positive, Binkle said.
But Barrett said the debut was a “disaster.” Participation plunged by more than 13%, he said. About two-fifths of the loss was tied to 99 schools that temporarily resumed requiring lunch tickets; typically, a drop-off is expected when this occurs. In the last month or so, the overall program has begun to recover; participation is down by about 5% or 6%, Barrett said.
Michelle Malkin, naturally, eviscerates this government boondoggle, which turns out to have little to do with children’s health, and lots to do with feeding the unions:
There’s nothing wrong with encouraging our children to eat healthier, of course. There’s nothing wrong with well-run, locally based and parent-driven efforts. But as I’ve noted before, the federal foodie cops care much less about students’ waistlines than they do about boosting government and public union payrolls.
In a little-noticed announcement several months ago, Obama health officials declared their intention to use school lunch applications to boost government health care rolls. Never mind the privacy concerns of parents.
Big Government programs “for the children” are never about the children. If they were, you wouldn’t see Chicago public school officials banning students from bringing home-packed meals made by their own parents. In April, The Chicago Tribune reported that “unless they have a medical excuse, they must eat the food served in the cafeteria.” The bottom line? Banning homemade lunches means a fatter payday for the school and its food provider.
Remember: The unwritten mantra driving Mrs. Obama’s federal school lunch meddling and expansion is: “Cede the children, feed the state.” And the biggest beneficiaries of her efforts over the past three years have been her husband’s deep-pocketed pals at the Service Employees International Union. There are 400,000 workers who prepare and serve lunch to American schoolchildren. SEIU represents tens of thousands of those workers and is trying to unionize many more at all costs.
In L.A., the district’s cafeteria fund is $20 million in the hole thanks to political finagling by SEIU Local 99. The union’s left-wing allies on the school board and in the mayor’s office pressured the district to adopt reckless fiscal policies awarding gold-plated health benefits to part-time cafeteria workers in the name of “social justice.” As one school board member who opposed the budget-busting entitlements said: “Everyone in this country deserves health benefits. But it was a very expensive proposal. And it wasn’t done at the bargaining table, which is where health benefits are usually negotiated. And no one had any idea where the money was going to come from.”
I’m going to throw in one more thing here: Do you think it’s a little peculiar that, when they shift to healthy food, the menu suddenly gets foreign? I have nothing against food from other countries. While I’m not a fan of Latin American food, I love foreign foods, especially Asian foods. But the subliminal message I get from the menu isn’t just that food from other nations is yummy and that we should all broaden our palettes so that we get more pleasure from dining. Instead, the wholesale abandonment of an American menu seems to me to say that all American food is unhealthy, which is just one more bad thing America has done to the world.
Question for you: Is my last statement a sign that I’m one step away from wearing a tinfoil hat or am I correctly recognizing yet another slap at who and what we are in America?