Political Editors / March 29, 2016

Definitely No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

Schools could soon be fined for defying FLOTUS’s lunch rules.

There is now virtually no area free of the government’s tentacles, and that includes the kitchen. From forcing restaurants to disclose the number of calories in their dishes, to regulating how many ounces of soda can be offered to patrons at any given time, the regulatory state has a more powerful say in what foods and beverages you can or cannot ingest. (Awfully strange considering how often conservatives are accused of invading women’s privacy when it comes to their bodies.) Well, here’s something else to chew on: If the Department of Agriculture gets its way, schools that are deemed nutritionally delinquent could face millions of dollars in fines thanks to Michelle Obama. The Washington Free Beacon reports:

> The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service issued a proposed rule Monday to codify parts of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which was championed by Mrs. Obama. The regulation would punish schools and state departments with fines for “egregious or persistent disregard” for the lunch rules that imposed sodium and calorie limits and banned white grains. A West Virginia preschool teacher was threatened with fines for violating the rules by rewarding her students with candy for good behavior in June 2015. The teacher ultimately did not have to pay, but the school had to develop a “corrective action plan” with training on the policies. The government now seeks to make fines enforceable by regulation. Section 303 of the law requires that the federal government “establish criteria for the imposition of fines” for all the Department of Agriculture’s child food programs.

The proposed rule unwittingly notes, “It is important to note that the statutory scheme only anticipates assessments be established in instances of severe mismanagement of a program, disregard of a program requirement of which the program operator had been informed, or failure to correct repeated violations [emphasis original].” Except everyone — even children running lemonade stands — knows that the government exceeds its authority all the time. So it’s hardly difficult to see the additional problems this would create.

Of course, more students could opt to bring their own lunches. But that raises another question: At what point will the government begin regulating those too? The bottom line is that Michelle Obama, or any first lady for that matter, is not an elected lawmaker. Which means they shouldn’t get to force policies on the rest of us — under threat of legal correction, no less.

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