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Rick Petfalski is the President of the Muskego-Norway School District in suburban Waskesha Wisconsin.  He is my new hero for at least a week – maybe a month.  Why?

Because he and his board said NO to Michelle Obama’s “healthy kids” regulations in the most effective way possible:  They opted out, that’s right, OPTED OUT of the Federal School Lunch Program.  Here’s some prize Petfalski courtesy of Breitbart and the Journal-Sentinel (Milwaukee):

As the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reports, Rick Petfalski, school board president of the Muskego-Norway School District, said, “We believe that proper food nutrition and meal portion guidelines are best decided at a local level.”

Petfalski’s school district’s decision to opt out of the National School Lunch Program means it will no longer receive federal money for its meals, but also that the district is free to serve whatever it wants.

“By leaving the program we will not be required to follow these onerous guidelines, pushed by and large by Michelle Obama, who last I checked has been elected by no one,” Petfalski said.

I love it!  Exactly my thoughts on the issue of First Ladies being involved in political or legislative issues.  No one elected Michelle Obama to meddle in policy.

How did these school districts do it:  By subbing out meals that kids want to BUY and EAT (sounds like the Free Market to me!) so that the lunch program actually makes money rather than loses it:

The school district will now cover the cost of free and reduced lunches on its own, though it was already losing money when it was part of Obama’s program because fewer kids were purchasing the meals. According to the Journal-Sentinel report, the school district will spend less on foods that students do not eat and, consequently, increase the number of children who purchase lunches by providing more satisfying meals.

Petfalski said his school district’s food service was projected to have nearly a $54,000 deficit. By opting out of the national program, he expects about a $7,100 surplus due to increased sales of food.

And of course they did not work – the food was wasted.  Hardly in keeping with the original law’s name:  Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.  (There would be an inference if I were elected to Congress that bills with catchy names like that are not a good idea!)

And like a good prairie fire, it seems to be spreading:

Muskego-Norway is not alone. The Waterford Graded School District and Waterford Union High School, which operate as two separate districts, and the Central High School District of Westosha also decided to leave the lunch program this spring.

For Waterford Graded, the decision was more than just financial. About 20% of students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches, with lunches costing about $2.50 each. The district’s superintendent, Christopher Joch, said it will have to absorb about $21,000 in costs to cover its loss of federal funds, and will be raising its paid lunch fees by a dime.

But Joch said the decision was strongly supported by parents and means there should be less food thrown away.

“There was a lot of waste,” he said. “The food ended up in the garbage instead of the kids’ mouths.”

The Central High School School Board decided to opt out to avoid operating at a projected $80,000 in the red. The district’s administrator, Scott Pierce, said he is confident that the school will be able to totally make up lost federal funds through a private vendor called Taher Food Service.

“We’re not trying to fatten up our kids,” Pierce said. “We’re trying to give them food they like.”

Connecticut is all wrong on guns but this district (Greenwich) is okay by me:

To avoid new federal dietary regulations that would have affected much of the cafeteria offerings at Greenwich High, the Board of Education has decided to withdraw the school from the National School Lunch Program for next school year. As a result, the district will lose approximately $141,000 in federal reimbursement next year for meals served at the high school, equivalent to approximately 2.5 percent of the district’s 2014-15 food services budget.

But board members say foregoing the federal money will be worth the loss — allowing the high school to keep its a la carte selection, but explore menu changes that would work for the students.

New York is solidly blue but the fire is there, too:

At least three local school districts — Voorheesville, Niskayuna and Burnt Hills–Ballston Lake — and Bethlehem High Schoolhave opted out of the federal program, giving back reimbursements in order to have more flexibility in what they serve students. Because, it turns out, since the regulations took effect schools were seeing a decline in food sales as well as wasted food because students were throwing it away.

“Especially, the high school athletes were complaining that they were still hungry after eating lunch,” said Burnt Hills–Ballston Lake district communications specialist Christy Multer. “Many students brought in lunch from home.”

Imagine that!  Bringing lunch from home!  Students still hungry after the Michelle Obama regimen!  I thought the bill was designed to prevent hungry kids!  Here’s the flyer on the new USDA regs.  They sound like they were outsourced to the EU for drafting!

One more blue state (Chicago, Illinois Daily Herald):

Northwest Suburban High School District 214 may drop out of the National School Lunch Program next year due to what officials called restrictive changes in the law.

On Thursday night, Christine Frole, director of food and nutrition services, presented a new meal plan to the school board that she said would give students more choices, while still being healthy.


Other districts in the area have opted out of the program in recent years including Maine Township High School District 207, Glenbrook District 225, Niles District 219 and Stevenson High School District 125, Frole said.

Dropping out of the school lunch program will mean less government money for the district, which received about $900,000 for serving reimbursable meals last year. Schuler and Frole said they both expect the department to make up the financial difference with increased sales and tightening corners elsewhere. The district would also still continue to participate in the USDA-funded Special Milk Program, which provides reimbursement for milk bought.

Officials said that if they decide to opt out, they will evaluate the program after one year to see if it still makes sense financially and for the students.

Alas, I could not find any Virginia school district opting out!  Who’ll be first?  Hanover?  King William?  New Kent?

Contrast these courageous school districts with the wish list of the Hanover School Board (four excerpts added below):

Urges the Virginia General Assembly to fully fund the cost of implementing the Standards of Quality (SOQ).
These costs should reflect the actual operating realities of local school divisions, including instructional and support costs.
Urges the state to increase fundingin support of competitive salaries.
Competitive wages support and enhance recruiting and retaining the best teachers for Hanover County.
Currently, Virginia’s teacher salary is nearly $4,009 or 7.6% below the national average for teachers.
Supports the goals of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA).
The National School Boards Association has adopted resolutions calling for the reauthorization of ESEA and the need for targeted federal investments in public education to promote student achievement…”
Urges the federal government to fully fund the additional costs and requirements accruing to local school divisions for the implementation of federal accountability.

I would have dissented in writing if I were on the School Board.  I got the copy of the report on the enormous costs in especially administration costs in education that the Mechanicsville Tea Party sent to each school board member in Hanover as well as the superintendent, too.  We have “invested” zillions in education and the kids aren’t learning!  Or so the Common Core people say.  I say horse hockey.  Someday, education technology will make it possible for most kids to be homeschooled at a fraction of the cost of education today.  Those left, many with special needs, will get a super education from teachers who will be able to spend more time and effort with them.  That will break the power of teachers’ unions and educrats permanently.

As Martin Luther King once said in a different context admittedly, “Free at last!  Free at last!  Thank God almighty, we are free at last!”









About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)


  1. robert shannon

    It is and has been abundantly clear for years that “mission creep” in the public education system has gone totally mad. The school lunch program in it’s manifestation of government control is just 1 such example of what happens when control is taken from local hands and placed into the paternalistic mechanisms of DC.

    Why kids parents can not fix them a lunch for school when parents did just that for the first 200 years of our national existence is beyond me. All we have achieved with federal meddling is overweight kids already exhibiting onsets of cardiovascular disease with the menu’s the schools offered to begin with. Politicians fixing problems politicians created to begin with.

    Schools were supposed to teach the 3 R’s, and today they have morphed into social laboratories interfering with issues that were never appropriate to begin with for schools to involve themselves in.

    The subsidizing of out of wedlock births has led to the proliferation of students living in exploding numbers of single parent households where little or no discipline exists, and the subsequent dumping onto the backs of the public education system the ensuing, and predictable consequences. That these very same parents can not get themselves out of bed to fix Johnny a PB sandwich and an apple is just said evidence of what happens when government becomes the “daddy” in the household.

    Getting the government ( and politicians ) out of the cafeteria is just the first step in returning schools to the control of local citizens. Allowing the counter balance of suffering the consequences of one’s own personal decisions ( having children out of wedlock ) will curb the poor choices, but not until people have to suffer the consequences of those choices.

    And for those of you who will call me hard hearted allow me one last observation. It isn’t any longer an option to ignore the impact this philosophy has on my children and grandchildren’s future. They are ultimately the one’s who will be asked to pick up the tab for all of this failed social experimentation of the last 60 years.
    Bob Shannon


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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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