Gross Lunches, Grosser Republicans

Republicans are having a field day with the pictures of the gross school lunches that students have been posting on Twitter using the hashtag #ThanksMichelleObama.

But what is grosser, these school lunches or Republicans?

The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, which amends the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act of 1946 and the Child Nutrition Act of 1966, was passed in 2010. Although it passed by unanimous consent in the Senate, only 17 Republicans in the House voted in favor of the legislation. Along with reauthorizing for five years child nutrition programs like the National School Lunch Program, it gives the federal government more control over school lunches. Among other things, the legislation:

• Gives USDA the authority to set new standards for food sold in lunches during the regular day, including vending machines.
• Authorizes additional funds for the new standards for federal-subsidized school lunches.
• Limits milk served to nonfat flavored milk or 1 percent white milk.
• Increased the number of eligible children for school meal programs.
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The National School Lunch Program is a federally assisted meal program that operates in over 100,000 public and non-profit private schools and residential child care institutions. It began in 1946 “as a measure of national security, to safeguard the health and well-being of the Nation’s children.” It was expanded in 1966 as part of Lyndon Johnson’s vision of a “Great Society.” In fiscal year 2012, the program cost American taxpayers $11.6 billion. War, Empire, and the M... Laurence M. Vance Best Price: $16.00 Buy New $9.95 (as of 10:55 EST - Details)

The National School Lunch Program provides free or low-cost lunches to more than 31 million children each school day. It is administered on the federal level by the Food and Nutrition Service of the Department of Agriculture. On the state level, it is usually administered by State education agencies, which operate the program through agreements with school food authorities.

Having an income at or below 130 percent of the poverty level makes a family’s children eligible for free meals. An income between 130 percent and 185 percent of the poverty level means that students can be charged no more than 40 cents for their meal.

In return for serving lunches that meet federal requirements and offering free or reduced price lunches to eligible children, schools that take part in the program get cash subsidies and food from the Department of Agriculture for each meal they serve. The current basic cash reimbursement rates are $2.93 for free lunches and $2.53 for reduced-price lunches. Schools certified to be in compliance with updated meal requirements receive an additional 6 cents for each meal served. Higher rates are in effect for Alaska and Hawaii, and for schools with a high percentages of low-income students.

But not only is there such a thing as a free lunch, other child nutrition programs include:

• The Child and Adult Care Food Program
• The Summer Food Service Program
• The School Breakfast Program
• The Afterschool Snack and Meal Program
• The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Childre
• The WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program
• The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program
• The Special Milk Program
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It goes without saying that it is parents who have the responsibility to feed their children, not the government. All government efforts to “feed the children” are redistribution-of-wealth schemes and income-transfer programs—even when they are for a “good” cause. And once it is accepted that it is the responsibility of government to feed children lunch at school if their parents make below some arbitrary amount, no logical and consistent argument can be made against the government educating, clothing, and medicating these same children. War, Christianity, and... Laurence M. Vance Best Price: $4.00 Buy New $9.95 (as of 10:55 EST - Details)

So what does the National School Lunch Program have to do with Republicans?

Everything.

During the first two years of President Eisenhower’s first term, when the Republicans had absolute control of the government, the National School Lunch Program could have been killed while it was still in its infancy just like all the New Deal programs put in place by FDR and the Democrats. The Republicans made no attempt to do so. Just like they made no attempt to do so during the six years that they controlled the Senate when Reagan was president.

In 1998, when Republicans controlled both Houses of Congress, they introduced and passed the William F. Goodling Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act (H.R.3874), which not only reauthorized, but greatly expanded, the The War on Drugs Is a ... Laurence M. Vance Best Price: $2.53 Buy New $5.95 (as of 10:55 EST - Details) National School Lunch Program. It passed in the Senate by unanimous consent. Every Democrat and every Republican in the House—except the heroic Ron Paul—voted in favor of the bill.

In 2004, when the Republicans not only controlled both Houses of Congress, but the presidency as well, they introduced and passed the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act (S.2507). It passed in the Senate by unanimous consent, passed without objection in the House, and was signed into law by George W. Bush.

Republicans who rail against Mrs. Obama because of her meddling into the school lunch program need to take a good long look in the mirror—and in the Constitution. Not only does the federal government have absolutely no authority to have anything to do with school lunches, it has absolutely no authority to have anything to do with schools, education, teachers, or students.

Pay no attention to Republican rhetoric about fiscal conservatism, limited government, federalism, balanced budgets, spending cuts, and free markets. They don’t mean a word of it. And pay no attention to what Republicans say about Mrs. Obama and her stupid ideas of what your children should eat for lunch at school. Republican criticisms only serve to mask the gross violations of the Constitution that they are guilty of.

Although it is deplorable that students have to eat these gross school lunches, it is the even grosser Republicans that students ought to be thanking for making it all possible.