Two Minus One Equals Ugh

March 1, 2022

Why it's not a good idea to always buy the cheapest school lunches.

Forcing governments to always accept the low bid on everything sounds great in the abstract. Who doesn’t favor saving taxpayers’ money? But it’s not so great when you have to deal with the consequences.

As schoolchildren do every day on their lunch trays.

That’s why my new hero is Jehan Gordon-Booth, an Illinois state representative who represents the Downstate city of Peoria. She has introduced legislation to remove school catering from the requirement to always award contracts to the lowest bidder.

“To say that it must be the lowest-rate food, the cheapest-quality food, and that is the metric by which we are determining what our children are putting into their bodies every day, I just think that we can do better,” she told a local TV station.


Things like transportation are already exempt from Illinois’ low-bidder rule, on the theory that no one trapped in a pile of twisted, smoking metal, awaiting rescue, ever said to himself, “Well, at least they saved money on those brakes.”

Bad school meals are the same way. They’re not as inherently dangerous as bad brakes – except in cases of food poisoning – but they make every kid’s school day a little more miserable, and who needs that?

The politics of school lunches, as I’ve written before, can get kind of goofy. But I hope we can all get behind the proposition that feeding our children as cheaply as possible is not the way to go.

And to anyone who may disagree, or think we’re spoiling the little brats: I take it, whenever you eat out, you always and invariably select the cheapest items from every menu?