Federal Government Shouldn’t Mandate Kids’ Meals—or Their Education

Rachel Sheffield /

If you thought school cafeteria food was bad, take a look at what the federal government has on the menu for school children.

The recent reauthorization of federal nutrition programs has slapped additional regulations onto school cafeteria menus, dictating everything from the number of orange slices a child must put on his or her plate to whether peas and corn are acceptable foods for the lunch line.

In a recent hearing, the House Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee chairman Duncan Hunter (R–CA) noted of this new nutrition legislation:

The resulting law has put the Department of Agriculture in the business of determining the amount of calories, fat, and sodium students should consume in a given school day…telling schools the type of milk, vegetables, and grains that can and cannot be served in cafeterias. The law places greater federal control over wellness policies best left in the hands of state and local leaders.

And, of course, these mandates don’t come without a price. The cost associated with these regulations is estimated to reach nearly $7 billion over the next five years. (more…)