Softish liberals usually think that nutritional standards for school food are an obvious social good, whereas many traditional (large L) liberals would be likely to think that parents might take more responsibility for their children's welfare than many seem to do. This is a hot topic in England as the government has gratuitously removed the need to adhere to such standards from its favourite schools.
There are, however, clear perils in messing with standards if you don't take student views on board (adding in a tbs of common sense). The New York Times reports on the disquiet that local interpretation of the Congress's 2010 Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act has resulted in. It reports Malik Barrows – a senior at Automotive High School in Brooklyn, who likes fruit but said his fellow students threw their mandatory helpings on the cafeteria floor – as saying ...
Before, there was no taste and no flavor. Now there’s no taste, no flavor and it’s healthy, which makes it taste even worse.
And here is an entertaining, if rather over-long, video [We are Hungry] from Wallace County High School, Kansas, on the state of high school food where price and quality have gone up (a bit), and portion size (ie, the calorie count) has gone down (by considerably more). Someone, it seems, thought that students would be ok with this. That they are not seems unsurprising. Couldn't happen here – could it?
I was struck by this in the NYT article ...
Research shows that children must be exposed to vegetables 10 to 12 times before they will eat them on their own, said William J. McCarthy, a professor of public health and psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles. “If our task is to get young kids to eat more fruits and vegetables, we have to be willing to put up with the waste”.
... though the cautionary tale from Los Angeles, which follows this, is sobering – but you'll have to read that for yourselves.