Are you serious? Processed foods are more expensive than unprocessed foods? Sir, where in the world do you shop? I'd like to do my grocery shopping there too!
In my experience the canned fruits, vegetables, tuna, frozen pizzas, etc. - processed food in general - are mostly cheaper than their fresh, unprocessed counterparts, especially if the latter (or their ingredients, in the pizza's case) are organically grown. (Maybe this is because they're sourced, processed, transported, and marketed in bulk, as well as modified and packaged so as to prevent/delay spoiling, all of which logically reduces their per-unit cost to the consumer.) Please bear with me here - this is not an ad for the food industry, as you'll see.
I think this is an important, but overlooked consideration: that processed food is arguably often cheaper, and, if not cheaper, is practically always more convenient than unprocessed - and shoppers obviously like those attributes. TV dinners? Just pop them in the microwave and voila! They're as convenient and cheap as they are lacking in nutritional value. Or how about a cheeseburger. The individual ingredients may cost less if you buy them yourself, but the time, money, and energy it takes to buy them and make a cheeseburger yourself, then clean your utensils/pans/plates, is far more than what it takes to order one at a fast-food restaurant (unless of course you make cheeseburgers at home all the time, so you have a stock of the ingredients and you're highly skilled/efficient at making them).
Of course, I know fresh is better than processed, and I try to eat accordingly. Make no mistake: I'm not advocating processed food here. The point I am trying to make is that the fundamental economic issue of lower cost is why we have a food-processing industry in the first place. Otherwise, consumers wouldn't patronize it. If you went to a burger joint, or any restaurant for that matter, and it took them 2 hrs to prepare your meal, and it cost $20, whereas if you had made the same meal at home in 1 hr and for $10 (or at some other lower cost structure), you'd be insane to pay for that restaurant's services ever again (unless you loved the waitress, the ambiance, or had some other strong motive(s) to value the experience differently), and the restaurant would go out of business (if it didn't drastically improve its service in time).
I'm glad the ''nation's public school lunch program'' is criticized. But the bigger problem lies not in the lunch program itself, but in the fact that the government, for all practical purposes, has a monopoly on primary-secondary education. The wholly unsatisfactory lunch program is a mere side effect of monopoly; monopolies can give unsatisfactory services/products precisely because consumers have no other option.
Lastly, when you say ''huckster capitalism run rampant'' it implies that capitalism is to blame here. I see this everywhere, and it's disturbing. Most people now confuse pure, unhampered, free-market-based capitalism with the heterogeneous system we have now of some capitalism, which is subverted by a capital-destroying tax and monetary policy, socialist programs, intervention-plagued ''free'' markets, government sanctioned monopolies, and privileged interest groups, etc. In capitalism, everyone is free to put products and services on the market. Consumers alone decide who gets rewarded for their effort. Consumers are king. They hold the power in their purses to make or break a company. The absolute only way a company can exploit its workers and/or continue to provide unsatisfactory products to consumers, is by getting the government to protect them and prevent a potential competing company or companies from entering the market and offering alternatives for the consumer. The politicians and the protected company win (in the short term) at the expense of the general population.
It is super-popular nowadays to blame capitalism, but in fact, the accelerating eradication of capitalism is the real source of our troubles. As an aside, I read a blog recently that cited the ongoing government debt crisis in the EU as a sign that ''we are approaching the limits of capitalism''. I hope it is obvious how insanely clueless that person is when it comes to economics, and how we all could do ourselves a service and educate ourselves on the real causes, the root causes of our problems. I recommend the following book as a good start:
Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics