FCPS Deceiving Parents About School Lunches

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) has an article on their official website entitled "Why Buy a School Lunch." The article contains elitist snobbery, misrepresentations, and outright lies, as well as the famous "straw man" fallacy. 

This is the full text of the article:

Lunches are planned by registered dietitians and chef to reflect the latest nutrition science by the Institute of Medicine and Dietary Guidelines of Americans. School lunches provide nutrient rich meals at a great price.

A study has shown that students who buy school lunches are more likely to consume fruit, vegetables, and dairy foods than those who have lunches from home.  Lunches from home are also more likely to have snacks high in sugar and/or fat and non-100% fruit juice. 

In this period of rising food costs, a comparison of a lunch brought from home with school lunch prices shows the school lunch is a nutritious bargain. 

First of all, the elitists at FCPS apparently believe that a nutritionist degree is necessary to plan a child's school lunch. That claim is absolutely ridiculous. Any parent can pack a sandwich with some fruit or vegetables, a drink, and maybe some pretzels or chips. There is no need for a nutritionist's degree to pack a lunch. 

Secondly, FCPS misrepresents reality by claiming that the statistics gathered in a study (which may not even exist -- FCPS did not provide a citation) allow them to give individual parents advice to buy a school lunch. Statistics refer to a general population, not to specific individuals. Even if the claim that lunches from home are, ON AVERAGE, less nutritious, is true, it does not follow that the solution is to buy a school lunch. There could be other solutions that parents could implement. 

Lastly, FCPS openly lies about "rising food costs." According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, "food inflation", the rate that food prices rise, is at the lowest level since 2009. In fact, food prices, when adjusted for inflation, are falling. While the overall inflation rate is allegedly around 1 percent, the food inflation rate is only 0.3 percent. This is a graph which shows the food inflation rate over the past 5 years. 

Contrary to the claims of FCPS, food prices are at their lowest level since 2009. 

On their page, FCPS has two different charts which purport to show that school lunches are less expensive and healthier than lunches from home. There are serious problems with both of them. 

The first false chart featured on the FCPS website.
The second false chart on the FCPS website.

While FCPS claims that school lunches are less expensive in the first chart, their prices on many items are absolutely ridiculous. Below is my own estimate of prices for the items that FCPS mentioned:

1. Two slices of bread -- $.15 or less (an entire loaf of bread is available at the dollar store)

2. Two ounces of turkey or ham -- $.46 (1 pound of sliced ham or turkey is $3.75 at Aldi or Giant)

3. One slice of cheese -- $.16 (The FCPS estimate was quite reasonable for this one)

4. Apple slices -- $.49 (using a price of $1.50 per pound for apples)

5. Carrots with dip -- $.35 (using a price of $1.00 per pound for carrots)

6. Bag of chips -- $.39 (One of only two estimates where FCPS did not ridiculously exaggerate the prices of food)

7. Bag and napkin -- $.05 (or not even necessary because parents can pack their children's lunch in reusable insulated bags instead of using paper bags)

TOTAL PRICE: $2.05 per meal


As you can see, in fact, it is cheaper to bring a lunch from home than it is to buy a school lunch. FCPS exaggerated grocery prices by 95.6 percent in order to convince parents to buy a school lunch for their children. 

What about the claims in the second chart? 

The FCPS staffer who wrote this article is making a false comparison by comparing a "pre-packaged" lunch to the school lunch. This is a version of the "straw man" logical fallacy, which is when a debater mischaracterizes an opponent's argument, and then refutes the mischaracterization of the opponent's argument, rather than the actual argument. 

Lunches from home have "limited choices"?  Really? Lunches from home have unlimited choices. And who dictates that parents pack a "fruit drink" for their children? How do FCPS bureaucrats determine that home lunches contain "higher saturated fat" and "limited fresh fruit"? 

The heading of the chart compares school lunches to "lunches from home", but the actual columns of the chart are titled "Elementary School Lunches" and "Prepackaged Lunches." Instead of comparing lunches that parents pack for their children to school lunches, FCPS compares prepackaged lunches to school lunches. Basically, when calculating the price, FCPS has parents shopping at Whole Foods and buying the most high-end, expensive food (such as an $8 loaf of bread), but when calculating the health benefits, FCPS has parents stopping at 7-11 and picking up a Lunchable and "fruit drink." CLASSIC straw man debate. 

Fairfax County Public Schools must remove or correct this dishonest article and stop misleading parents about school lunches! This is just another example of FCPS' elitism and dishonesty as well as their disdain for parents. 


  1. AND what student wants to eat the lunches? They're gross.
    Only 1 kind of the pizza is even liked by students in elementary and high school.
    PLUS every lunch you buy just helps pay for the kids who aren't paying anything or only a part of their meal which is something like 53,000 kids in FCPS. Basically buy a lunch and you're paying for everyone.
    Anyone wonder why Fairfax is one of the top destinations in the country for DHHS to drop Unaccompanied Minors?
    Fairfax County tax payers are picking up the tab for English, high staffing to student numbers, academic remediation, medical needs and shots, lunches, before and after-school programs, school trips, instruments, alternative education, gang violence, juvenile detention and and and and and. All until Unaccompanied Minors reach their 23rd birthday. Not a typo. Twenty-three. That's how long children have to be educated by the public schools in Virginia. Two years past when they can legally chug a brew and follow it with a shot of tequila.
    The FCPS Board of Education now says they want to focus on spending more time and money socially re-engineering schools to make sure they control the number and percent of each racial group at each school.
    It starts with crappy expensive lunches. The rot goes way beyond bland food at jacked-up prices though.

  2. Normal people don't buy bread at the dollar store.

    1. Not really, but even if we calculate the cost of bread with grocery store prices, Garza's calculation is still way off...

      $2.50 for a loaf of bread
      20 slices in a loaf
      12.5 cents per slice
      25 cents for two slices

      So the total cost for a home lunch, if we don't buy bread at the dollar store, is $2.15, not $4.01 as FCPS claims.

      P.S. I could have deleted your comment and banned your IP, but I don't censor things just because they are stupid.


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