New school lunch rules: How not to get kids to eat their vegetables

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Congress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture should have consulted some everyday, health-conscious moms and dads before they drew up their amazingly byzantine rules for school lunches.

I’m all in favor of the new policy’s aim to put more fruits and vegetables in front of school kids, especially those who are poor enough to qualify for subsidized school meals. Even if that means a few veggies get tossed in the trash. Most parents know that children, especially those more used to Pringles than parsnips, do a lot of refusing before they develop a taste for vegetables.

For one thing, the rules practically mandate a staggering amount of food waste. The list of bad policies, including the requirement for students to take three items per day even if they’re only hungry enough for two, is rather staggering. Worse, though, is that prissily rigid policies intended to increase fruit and vegetable consumption might be having the opposite effect.

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