This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.
This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.
Food Critic Rush Limbaugh Weighs In On LAUSD School Lunch
Nearly a year after chef and activist Jamie Oliver visited LA and our schools' lunchrooms none other than Rush Limbaugh weighs in on our kids and their eating habits at the Los Angeles Unified School District. Sounding more like Jonathan Swift sans irony, Limbaugh has responded on air to this weekend's LA Times piece on the new menu fail at the country's second largest school district.
There's nothing new about Uncle Oxy's vile hatred for all of those urban children but he does make the claim that participation has fallen to 13%.
If that is is true then the menu writers in the LAUSD kitchen would have turned away several hundred million more dollars in Federal USDA school lunch funding. With the majority of LA kids being eligible for the "Free and Reduced lunch program" that's thousands of dollars per day per school. For example, Dorsey High in West LA has had a participation rate of less than 20% for years, and they are a school where over 80% of the student body is eligible for participation. With Dorsey's current enrollment, that amounts to nearly $3,600 dollars daily in nutrition funding that remains in DC and does not feed kids who, despite "El Rushbo's" opinion, legally deserve the opportunity.
Since the Times piece points out the "black market" for junk food, Limbaugh is all over that like American cheese on a hamburger patty, rationalizing that if 13% of the kids are taking the free lunch, then of course the entirety of the other 87% "are finding lunch on the black market." Limbaugh also seems to think that if these poor kids can buy a cup of ramen noodles from their buddy, they shouldn't be offered a free lunch of "tofu garbage":
The school lunch, of course, is provided el freebo. The kids are refusing to eat it. Instead, there's a black market for burgers, tacos, whatever. Where are they getting the money to buy this stuff on the black market, folks? Hmm? Hmm? Weren't we told that the students and their families were so financially disadvantaged, that there was so much financial struggle going on they couldn't afford their own meals. That's why we even have to start serving school dinner in Memphis. And yet students seem to have plenty of money for a black market school lunch menu.
Right now we are waiting for LAUSD to get us numbers. Yes, an actual budget, to us (unless an eager LA mayor candidate and LAUSD parent wants to share an audit). No word from Jamie Oliver either. In the meanwhile, please enjoy the full transcript of this particular Rush Limbaugh broadcast. It's almost palatable if you read it with your Jonathan Swift filter turned all the way to 11.
RUSH: This is hilarious. Los Angeles schools have rejected First Lady Michelle Obama's school lunch program. This story is from three days ago. It's in the Los Angeles Times. "For many students, Los Angeles Unified's introduction of healthful lunches -- part of a campaign against obesity, diabetes and other problems -- has been a flop. The district says the menu will be revised." Here's how the story begins. "It's lunchtime at Van Nuys High School and students stream into the cafeteria to check out the day's fare: black bean burgers, tostada salad, fresh pears and other items on a new healthful menu introduced this year by the Los Angeles Unified School District. But Iraides Renteria and Mayra Gutierrez don't even bother to line up. Iraides said the school food previously made her throw up, and Mayra calls it 'nasty, rotty stuff.' So what do they eat? The juniors pull three bags of Flamin' Hot Cheetos and soda from their backpacks.
“'This is our daily lunch,' Iraides says. 'We're eating more junk food now than last year.'
"For many students, L.A. Unified's trailblazing introduction of healthful school lunches has been a flop. Earlier this year, the district got rid of chocolate and strawberry milk, chicken nuggets, corn dogs, nachos and other food high in fat, sugar and sodium. Instead, district chefs concocted such healthful alternatives as vegetarian curries and tamales, quinoa salads and pad Thai noodles. There's just one problem: Many of the meals are being rejected en masse. Participation in the school lunch program has dropped by thousands of students. Principals report massive waste, with unopened milk cartons and uneaten entrees being thrown away. Students are ditching lunch, and some say they're suffering from headaches, stomach pains and even anemia. At many campuses, an underground market for chips, candy, fast-food burgers and other taboo fare is thriving."
So here's Michelle Obama trying to co-opt and take over the school lunch program for healthful eating and just like everywhere else in the free market, if people can find a way around what's dictated to them, they will do it, and a black market ends up being created. Now, the Los Angeles Unified School District, second largest in the country, it's the largest to try a government-approved school lunch menu that was championed by Michelle Obama. They bragged about this three months ago. The only problem is the kids are refusing to eat the stuff. The participation in the school lunch program by the students has plunged to 13%. Eighty-seven percent of the students are finding lunch on the black market. There is a Mafia, there is an organized crime of alternate food at lunch. Back-alley lunches. Look what the kids are learning at the Los Angeles Unified School District.
This is another thing. The school lunch, of course, is provided el freebo. The kids are refusing to eat it. Instead, there's a black market for burgers, tacos, whatever. Where are they getting the money to buy this stuff on the black market, folks? Hmm? Hmm? Weren't we told that the students and their families were so financially disadvantaged, that there was so much financial struggle going on they couldn't afford their own meals. That's why we even have to start serving school dinner in Memphis. And yet students seem to have plenty of money for a black market school lunch menu. And, by the way, you know somebody's making a profit in that black market. This is not being done out of the goodness of somebody's heart. So back-alley lunches at the Los Angeles Unified School District.
"One teacher asked his eleventh grade US history students to write five letters about the food to the mayor, the media and First Lady Michelle Obama." A history class was asked to write letters to the First Lady about the abomination that the school lunch program had become. I love this. I absolutely simply love this, folks. And here's a story. This is from September 1st of this year. " Los Angeles Unified School District's 'I'm In' campaign promotes healthy lifestyles and invites districts locally and nationwide to join in the effort." This is a story trumpeting the great arrival of the new healthful school lunch program. They're so proud of it. "LAUSD Launches Wellness Campaign -- Are You 'In'?" is the headline. It has been a dismal failure. Black market food for lunch at the Los Angeles public schools, back-alley lunches.
RUSH: By the way, the Los Angeles Unified School District has now said they're gonna bring back hamburgers. Hamburgers will be offered daily as well as pizza. Even bringing back pizza.
RUSH: Bill in Hampton, Virginia, we go back to the phones. Great to have you, sir, on the EIB Network. Hello.
CALLER: Merry Christmas, Rush.
RUSH: Same to you, sir.
CALLER: Hey, I want to back up a little bit back to your story about the high school lunches and your use of the term the black market and --
RUSH: Back alley, black market, back-alley lunches, yeah.
CALLER: Yeah. I really think there's too much negative connotation that goes with that term.
CALLER: And really it is the resiliency of the free market that no matter what the government tries to do to squash it, capitalism and free enterprise will survive.
RUSH: That's an excellent point. It actually was the free market triumphing over a command-and-control economy from the White House.
RUSH: You're exactly right. We were having fun with the term back-alley lunch. I just love ramming liberals' terms right down their orifices, especially that one, just love back-alley lunch. But you're right, it wasn't a black market, it's the free market, it's the kids saying, "I want burgers." And, look, here's something else. When they really want it they'll find a way to pay for it. Here they have this free lunch of tofu garbage, whatever else Michelle Obama wants 'em to eat, they don't want to eat that, they are willing to pay free market prices for food they do want to eat, even though we're told that the children of America don't have any money and everybody's too poor, that's why the government has to pay for it. In that article school teachers were caught selling so-called junk food to the kids. The junk food being a hamburger or a slice of pizza, junk food, yeah. But even teachers were caught getting in on the act.