By Ezra Klein
Jill Richardson takes stock of Alice Waters’ op-ed in favor of a new commitment to school lunches. “The cost of providing appropriate food for 30 million school children would be about $5/meal, or about $27 billion/year,” she writes. “That is a significant increase in federal expenditure, but the long-term savings that result would well outweigh the costs. Healthier foods mean less long-term health expenditures.”
I’m skeptical of this logic: Health care costs cluster late in life while school lunches come early. There is, of course, a correlation between poor nutrition in childhood and ill health in adulthood, but it’s probably not the sort of link you break with better school lunches. And so what? Parks don’t save us money, but it’s good that we have them. There are things we should do because they should be done. We’re the richest nation in the world. We can do better than feeding our children inventively presented corn syrup fresh from the microwave.