Another Economics Lesson For The Statists

Not even a government monopoly can overcome basic economics.
Lured by the promise of federal subsidies (read “free” money), school systems across the country went all in on the Michelle Obama pet project National School Lunch Program’s Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act that posed strict limits on calories, fat, sugar, carbohydrates and sodium in school lunches and also limited the types of snacks available and foods served at other school activities. As was usual with the collectivists, we were told it was all about the children: particularly, childhood obesity.
School lunch programs and vending machines have long been cash cows for school systems. The more “needy” children that schools could recruit into their “free” or “reduced” lunch programs with the lure of two or three “hots” a day, the more federal largess the school districts received. Vending machines peddling Twinkies, Ding-Dongs, chocolate bars and sodas could pull in incomes of five figures in a single year. Bake sale fundraisers typically pulled in hundreds more to help fund extracurricular activities.
But it turns out kids don’t want what Obama is peddling. School districts have seen a sharp decline in school lunch participation and a sharp increase in school waste. The lost sales have school cafeterias struggling to make ends meet. The end of fundraisers has restricted extra activities the kids could pursue.
According to a survey by the School Nutrition Association (SNA), about 25 percent of school lunch programs have lost money for the past six months because of the new Obama-inspired menus. In New York, more than 75 percent of school districts are losing money because of the new federal lunch and snack regulations, Todd Fowler, food service director at the Bloomfield and Canandaigua schools told The Henrietta Post.
The SNA reports that statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show a decline in student lunch participation in 49 states since the new standards took effect. Millions of kids are now shunning school lunches.
“The students are clearly voting with their pocket book,” Warren Consolidated Schools Superintendent Robert Livernois told the “What I see down the road, as these regulations become stiffer, is our paying customers continuing to vote with their wallet and going elsewhere for their meals.”
Livernois said federal regulations are creating a two-tiered school lunch scenario in which poor children are forced to eat the school lunch while others bring food from home. “I see the program morphing into a free and reduced meal program,” he said.
In last week’s economic lesson, statists were taught how confiscatory taxes and burdensome regulations drive businesses out of the country to more business-friendly climes. This week’s lesson is that to be successful, a business must provide a desirable product.
Long-time readers know that I have long been an advocate for healthy eating. But as history has shown, not even government can force a product on an unwilling public for long. And in yet more typical government program double-speak, the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act has resulted in exactly what its name implied it would prevent.