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Tater Tots Aren't Vegetables: Why Do We Feed Our Kids Crap?

School lunches are a big part of many children's diets, yet the system is under-financed and USDA guidelines are warped. So what will we do about it?

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Keynes knew that in a downturn, people are earning less so they also pay less in taxes. Simultaneously, more people qualify for entitlements (like food stamps or Medicaid), pushing up government spending. An austerity budget to fix the deficit now will prevent the government from spending what is necessary to bring back our economy. Once the economy recovers, the opposite will be true, and we will be more able to fix the deficit then.

In the specific case of school lunches, an austerity budget (and unhealthy food) now will result in massive increases in spending in the future when a generation of children raised on unhealthy food becomes a generation of unhealthy adults with costly, chronic illnesses. Some say they don't want to pass the deficit onto their children. But what child, when they are diagnosed with diabetes at age 25, would say "Thank you for balancing the budget by saving money on my school meals"?

Jill Richardson is the founder of the blog La Vida Locavore and a member of the Organic Consumers Association policy advisory board. She is the author of Recipe for America: Why Our Food System Is Broken and What We Can Do to Fix It. .

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