As America unwound from World War II, the nation faced the problem of an abundance of food. Congress passed the National School Lunch Act, to prop up food prices while helping out schools.
But like many a federal program, after 67 years this program lost its way.
The budget grew from $70 million to subsidize the feeding of 7 million children in the first year to $11.1 billion to subsidize the feeding of nearly 32 million children in 2011.
In the name of reducing childhood obesity, in 2010 Congress ordered the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which runs the program, to set restrictions on what is served, including "calorie limits to ensure age-appropriate meals," according to the agriculture agency.
The federal government also wants to impose restrictions on sodium.
The Pew Charitable Trusts' Kids' Safe and Healthful Foods Project lobbied for these changes.
The tax-exempt group said 94 percent of the 3,300 officials it surveyed said they expect to meet all the requirements by the end of the school year.
"It shows that this is certainly doable," Jessica Donze Black, director of the Pew project, told the Associated Press.
Congress, however, restricted the restrictions the federal agriculture agency set. Under an act of Congress, schools will be allowed to serve French fries and the tomato paste in pizza counts as a vegetable.
Which raises the question of which is dumber, Congress determining that tomato paste is a vegetable or federal bureaucrats banning French fries?
Meanwhile, the garbage piles up at school cafeterias because children do not like the food being served.
Some schools are rebelling. Already this school year, 524 schools have dropped out of the program.
The nation needs to get Washington out of the cafeteria just as Washington should butt out of the classroom.
The purpose of a school lunch should be to feed children, not to please lobbyists in Washington, be they lobbyists for potato farmers or lobbyists for well-meaning trust funds.