Tuesday, December 21, 2010

There really is no free lunch...

... or breakfast for that matter as well.

Via W.C Varones:

Let's just call it the "Cheeto defense"

The unintended consequences of the actions of the federal government being parodied above does not reside exclusively in the domain of cartoons but in real life as well.

School districts like the one here in San Diego are wondering how it is they are going to pay for the extra benefits contained within the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Sound familiar?

But with new regulations come price points that may seem realistic in Washington, D.C., but aren’t as feasible in San Diego.

Last week, President Barack Obama signed the federal Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, a plan intent on diverting children away from sugary, fat-filled calorie bombs such as snack cakes and chocolate bars and igniting an interest in vegetables, fruits, exercise and healthy living.

First lady Michelle Obama promoted the bill as part of her “Let’s Move” campaign aimed at reducing childhood obesity.

The measure requires schools to make healthy choices more readily available and offers $4.5 billion in financial incentives over 10 years for those that meet nutritional standards set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

According to the bill, schools will be given an average of six cents toward each meal that meets USDA nutrition standards starting in fall 2012.

Gary Petill, the Unified district’s food services director, said the cost of those meals could hover around 20 cents each, meaning a loss of 14 cents for each meal. That’s a loss of more than a quarter per student per day if he or she eats both breakfast and lunch on campus.

In addition to losing money on the deal, critics of the law say that "on the fence" families that do not qualify for free meals may not be able afford the new and improved ObamaMeals.

Here's Gary Petill, the Unified district's food services director displaying his understanding of this dilemma via hyperbole perhaps owing to his job title:

“That’s where the biggest problem is in our society,” he said. “If they can’t afford to pay for the meals and they don’t have enough money to buy the right nutrients, the right meals, then what are those kids eating?”

We'd go with single-parent homes, drug use and crooked pols ahead of what kids are eating for lunch but, yeah, we get the point.

All this to say that healthier meals are a swell and fantastic idea (though were wondering what the hell the federal government is doing in the food business in the first place) but like anything else dreamed up by a President, Congressmen or First Lady someone has to pay for it.

And whether it's health care reform or school lunches there are trickle-down (unintended) consequences whenever you start engineering and increasing the reach and breadth of federal bureaucracy all for the "good of society".

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