“Less red tape for school-meals”

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December 30, 2011 by galudwig

BBC News reports:

Many secondary students stop eating school lunches, often tempted by cheap local take-aways, the government says.

Well, obviously, this is a huge problem for the nation’s health!

Judy Hargadon, chief executive of the School Food Trust, said: “When children eat better, they do better – which is why we want to see more children able to have a healthy school meal every day.

Many parents have told us they would be more likely to try school meals for their child if they were on offer at a discount.”

Yeah, I’m not surprised.

But, my gripe in this article is not necessarily with schools wanting to provide certain pupils with a discount on school meals. Apart from the obvious contention that most of these schools are funded by tax money, in a free society, the schools should be able to spend their revenue in whichever way they want, in their attempts to court the parents’ patronage.

No, my gripe is with the existing legislation, which apparently does this:

From next year a change in the law will allow school dinner price promotions with less red tape. (…) Schools wanting to offer their own meal-deals need special permission not to charge everyone the same amount per item. (…) Under the new rules, schools would be able to offer a dinner-deal for pupils starting a new school to get them into the canteen.

Uh, what? So, basically, the government created a law that supposedly protects pupils in government-run schools from being “victims” of price discrimination, requiring them to ask permission to engage in special meal-deals. Now, the government has realized that this is pretty stupid, and, to fix the situation, they will pass another law to specifically allow the schools to offer dinner-deals to pupils who enter a new school. And somehow, this is called “less red tape”.

But, obviously,

To safeguard pupils not included in a special offer, the rules will still prevent schools from charging more than the cost of providing the meal.


Is there really any question why pupils seem on the whole to consider school-meals inferior to cheap take-away? Where is the incentive to provide any quality at all? Do the government bureaucrats really think that people will happily pay for crap because the government and some pressure groups say that it’s supposedly more healthy? Do they really think that subjecting something as simple as school-meals to a plethora of regulations and standards, and then forbidding them to compete with others and get any benefit from providing quality amounts to ensuring quality and cost-effectiveness? Do they truly believe that profit is evil and makes everyone worse off, while non-profit is run by angels which aren’t affected by the laws of economics?

Stop taxing us dry and privatize the schools. Let them decide for themselves whether to provide meals or not and what to charge for it. Parents will make their own decisions on where to send their children accordingly. Pupils will decide what’s in their best interest without some guy in a suit telling them that they know better.

BBC News – Schools encouraged to offer meal deals to pupils.


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