Health vs. Profits in School Lunches


An interesting story about a study that indicates that – somehow – obesity and the National School Lunch Program are linked. Do school lunches cause obesity? Or are obese kids more inclined to participate in the program? Good question, evidently.  

Another observation is that those in the School Breakfast Program tend less towards obesity, and at least one researcher feels that even a not especially nutritious breakfast may incline people towards healthier eating habits. The key here may be that lunch offers more “a la carte” options, meaning kids can buy more junk to “supplement” the Program’s offerings.  

What stunned me about the article is this quote, from one of the researchers: “We need to think about how to make school lunches more healthy as well as profitable to schools …. Health is important, but it’s only one issue that schools are dealing with.” 

Perhaps the quote was taken out of context, but since when do schools need to make money selling lunch? I understand that if there are profits made they’re (theoretically) used to support other now largely underfunded programs, but still: The primary goals of school lunches should be two: Teaching (and helping) kids to eat well, and providing nourishment for kids who couldn’t otherwise afford it. If I were pressed to name a third goal, it would be to provide a market for local producers, and jobs for local citizens; the so-called profitability of the program would be about 87th on my list. Sheesh.  

(It’s worth noting that this article was drawn to my attention by Ezra Klein’s increasingly indispensable Wonkbook.)

(Photo Credit: Lily.Isabella via Flickr)

Posted in Food Politics


  1. searchlight said...

    Was the lunch photo taken before or after digestion?

  2. Anonymous said...

    The federally-subsidized school lunch program is to be operated on a non-profit basis. But then there are the a la carte lines, the vending machines, the school stores…

  3. Lunchlady said...

    If school lunch programs are not at least marginally profitable, lunchladies do not get paid.

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