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By Staff | Jul 18, 2014

I hate to tell you how long ago it’s been since I dined in a school cafeteria, but lunch must have been important to me as I can still remember some of the issues dating to back to those ancient days as a student.

The federal government has been assisting school lunch programs since 1946 so the program actually does significantly predate my school days in the late 1960s.

The subsidies were intended to safeguard the health and well-being of the nation’s school children.

The program has since far eclipsed the billions and billions of meals sold by McDonalds. The government would often offer surplus food stocks that were managed as commodities by the government, purchased with the objective of supplementing food in school lunch programs and subsidizing domestic ag commodity producers.

I don’t know how many different commodities were included in the program, but I do know that beets and sauerkraut were once part of the menu.

I can’t stand to be in the same room with cooked beets, but the German in me loves sauerkraut. They would serve these foods, but most of them ended up in the garbage can, so what did it accomplish? I couldn’t eat everyone else’s sauerkraut so most was still thrown out.

Some schools have now dropped chocolate milk believing it to be unhealthy and all that has resulted in, is that kid’s consumption of milk plunged.

In other words, the foodies have it all figured out what the kids should eat, but have no clue as to how to get them to consume it.

First Lady Michelle Obama has made these food issues of managing children’s eating habits one of her personal missions, which I expect is hard on Sasaha and Malia to live up to.

If anyone ever saw them eating a Twinkie it would be headline news. The President does sneak out for burgers so they are not vegetarian.

As with just about everything else in Washington, Congress ends up in a squabble with the Obamas, opposing anything that they champion.

The USDA sets school lunch programs and the House conservatives don’t want government even telling schools what they can feed the kids.

They want to allow school districts to opt out. I don’t think that they could opt out of beets and kraut in my day, but no one ever framed that action with being the overreach of oppressive government, although I thought that the smell of cooked beets was torture.

President Obama has to live with Michelle so it was announced that he would veto a bill allowing school districts to opt out of federal school lunch standards.

I think the reason we were so healthy as kids is that we did not eat all the lunches served, reducing the caloric intake.

Actually Mrs. Obama’s heart is in the right place and she wants to give the kids healthy eating alternatives that they will consume.

Eliminating full sugar sodas, junk foods from vending machines and requiring a serving of fruits and vegetables per meal wouldn’t kill them.

Michelle has called French fries a favorite food, which under the rules can be served as often as a school wishes, so potato growers should be on board.

I, frankly, am not sympathetic to school districts who say they cannot afford to serve healthy food to their kids. They have a bigger problem if they cannot meet such a basic need and it doesn’t hurt to put some thought to it.

It may well serve them to look to the private sector for the answer as many private companies are in business that have proven in some regions that they can meet the federal school lunch guidelines providing healthy food that students will eat, and make a profit.

If the federal government is going to provide school lunch aid then it does have a right to set some standards.

The way it has always been is that if you get a government check then you are often required to accept their rules.

The conservatives appear to want the school districts to be able to take the money and yet do nothing for it, which to me is not a conservative principle.

They can opt out if they truly do not want to accept USDA aid, but to date just .2 percent of school districts have.

USDA said that school food waste has not increased as a result of the new food standards so they must not serve beets.

The rules are being implemented over the next 12 years so are being shoved down throats very slowly and according to USDA, 90 percent of schools have already complied.

I am sure that there will be kids that opt for another lunch off campus on days they serve kale, but that brings back the memory that most of the spinach served in my school days went in the garbage can, too … but I learned to like it.

I eat spinach now and it is actually good for you. There are things that you can learn in school besides math and science.

David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments Inc., author and producer of The CommStock Report, an ag commentary and market analysis available daily by radio and by subscription on DTN/FarmDayta and the Internet.

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