States Can Run School Nutrition Better than the Feds

The “Washington knows best” approach has forced prescriptive child nutrition mandates onto schools. The Healthy and Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 is creating vast waste as kids refuse the supposedly nutritious meals that the federal government is forcing upon them.

Schools have dropped aspects of the school lunch program altogether because of the difficulty and costs associated with implementing the standards.

Trays full of unappetizing and stomach-churning school lunches, trash cans overflowing with uneaten food, and schools losing money as more families opt to pack lunches are just some of the unintended outcomes from these standards.

It’s hard to have healthy, hunger-free kids when kids are hungry because they don’t like the food. It is also difficult for kids to be healthy when they are hungry.

The Federal government has once again pushed out parents and local leaders from one of the most important decisions they can make — what their child eats.

Parents, who have the most at stake with their children, and who already teach them to make dietary decisions that reflect their unique needs, should guide what their children eat. Washington should stay out.

Congress should ensure that parents’ decisions for their children are protected.

Yesterday, I offered an amendment during a House Education & Workforce Committee markup, that would have enabled those closest to the students — parents, local leaders, and school nutritionists and administrators — to fulfill students’ unique dietary needs.

My amendment empowers states and schools through a single, flexible formula grant so every state can administer its own child nutrition program. This ensures that every school receives necessary resources to feed nutritious meals to students.

It reserves the full authority for setting and administering school nutrition programs solely to the states, cutting out the Washington bureaucrats.

It restores Congress’ Article I responsibility over funding by making it part of the annually funded discretionary budget. And it allows States to set money aside in a rainy day fund in case of times of economic hardship.

These reforms are modest, but necessary, I think, in removing the detailed Federal standards that place the government between parents and their children.

Although my amendment was not adopted, I will continue to support efforts that reverse poorly crafted federal mandates that have led to higher costs for schools and fewer students participating in the lunch program.

And I will continue to fight to return decision-making back to the states, schools, and parents where it rightfully belongs.

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