The “nanny state tramples on parental prerogatives over kids’ diets” stories are irresistible blog fodder, arguably even tastier than the legendary “dubious taser use by police” viral vids. Remember last year when a Chicago school flatly forbade kids from bringing in homepacked lunches? A school in North Carolina has a different approach: You can bring the lunch mom packed for you, but if it doesn’t meet the USDA guidelines, you’ll be marched to the cafeteria to eat a “healthy” lunch instead — and mom will be billed for the extra expense.
The punchline? Mom’s lunch actually did meet the guidelines in this case.
The girl’s mother — who said she wishes to remain anonymous to protect her daughter from retaliation — said she received a note from the school stating that students who did not bring a “healthy lunch” would be offered the missing portions, which could result in a fee from the cafeteria, in her case $1.25…
“What got me so mad is, number one, don’t tell my kid I’m not packing her lunch box properly,” the girl’s mother told CJ. “I pack her lunchbox according to what she eats. It always consists of a fruit. It never consists of a vegetable. She eats vegetables at home because I have to watch her because she doesn’t really care for vegetables.”
When the girl came home with her lunch untouched, her mother wanted to know what she ate instead. Three chicken nuggets, the girl answered. Everything else on her cafeteria tray went to waste.
“She came home with her whole sandwich I had packed, because she chose to eat the nuggets on the lunch tray, because they put it in front of her,” her mother said. “You’re telling a 4-year-old. ‘oh. you’re lunch isn’t right,’ and she’s thinking there’s something wrong with her food.”
Watch the Fox News clip below to see how the mother’s lunch measured up to the USDA guidelines. Ready for another punchline? When the school forces a “healthy” lunch on a kid, it doesn’t take away the lunch that mom packed. The child could, if he/she is hungry enough, presumably eat both, which is an … interesting strategy for reducing child obesity. And of course, the final punchline: The little girl in this case still didn’t end up eating any vegetables despite having two lunches in front of her, which, of course, is why mom didn’t bother packing any veggies in the first place. So we end up not only with a bunch of wasted food but with a kid who didn’t get the basic nutrition that her mother’s own meal would have provided her. Perfecto.
Said the girl’s grandmother, “This isn’t China, is it?” The Civitas Institute notes that this is a nationwide practice based on federal guidelines, but I’m as surprised to learn that as the “shocked” North Carolina state rep whom they contacted for comment. Question for our readers with kids in public schools: Has your child ever been hassled before over the lunch you’ve packed for them? I assume these guidelines are very loosely enforced, precisely because parents get angry when the state starts micromanaging their kids’ diets.
If we went ahead and banned Happy Meals and pulled potatoes out of school cafeterias and regulated sugar like it’s cocaine or something we might not have these problems, you know. Two clips here, one from Fox and the other via Breitbart TV of a school official in Michigan reminding parents that they do not, in fact, know best.
Update: I replaced the Michigan video with a version from the MRC.