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Digging Up Another Case of Wasteful Spending: USDA's School Lunch Gardens

With all the talk of the need to reign in wasteful government spending, you’d think agencies would be cutting back on programs not central to their mission. You’d be wrong.

In a piece for Forbes, “Waste And Bad Judgment Sprout At The USDA,” the Hoover Institution’s Dr. Henry I. Miller and I report about the recently funded million-dollar “People’s Garden School Pilot Program.” We write,

We suspect that most reasonable people would consider this program to be the agricultural equivalent of a bridge to nowhere, the kind of wasteful discretionary spending that in the midst of budget battles and an austerity campaign should be on the chopping block.

Personally, I am a big fan of backyard gardening. In fact just came inside from planting four varieties of hot peppers and a variety of herbs. So I write with some authority when I explain,

Backyard” gardening has lots of benefits, but those of us who have tried it know that it is not a serious and cost-effective way to feed people. Nor is it practical during most of the school year in a large swath of the United States. And like food from other sources, the produce from school gardens is not immune from contributing to obesity. Home-grown potatoes make great french fries! What kids really need to be taught (preferably by their parents) is moderation and how to prepare food in a way that minimizes calories. And more phys ed in school wouldn’t hurt, either.


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