Eating healthy food isn't always cheap, and some conservatives in Congress are concerned that the Obama administration's effort to make school lunches more nutritious is a luxury the nation can't afford.
Many schools, especially the poorest ones, agree. They say new rules issued by the Agriculture Department in January will require them to buy pricier foods and more equipment at a time when federal and state budgets are tight and food costs are rising.The AP story goes on to tell us that these odious requirements could cost as mush as fourteen cents a meal, or $7 billion over five years. So the annual cost is less than one-twentieth of one percent of the federal budget for 2011. Put another way, the giant hole in the deficit blasted through by the extension of the Bush tax cuts costs more than 300 times as much per year as the boost to the school nutrition program.
And why am I glad I woke up my computer first? Because annie em, one of the many helpful diarists at DailyKos, posted this piece: "NYC schools feed students good food, test scores rise 16%." The study she references is an old one, but similar results have obtained elsewhere.
This is one of the many reasons why the current mania for cutting "the size of government" is penny wise and pound foolish - or maybe penny dumb and pound dumber. The savings and gains to be realized by investments in education are legion – not least the amounts to be deducted from future prison costs. The diarist also references some of the outrages flowing from private-sector contractors skimming profits out of our children's nutritional needs.
Free market fundamentalists are ruining this country. Perhaps they were malnourished as children?