Let’s just say it like it is, and stop pussyfooting around, shall we?
This whole “Oh, no, the government setting up better nutrition standards for my kid’s lunches is a Nanny State!” is complete crap. You want to know what a Nanny State is? It’s one where our schools provide any food to kids. Actually, it’s having public schools at all. Our schools spend 8 hours a day being nannies to our nation’s children: they teach them, they discipline them, they socialize them, and yes, they feed them. That is pretty much the definition of “nanny,” folks. (If you want to argue everyone should therefore home school, get your own blog and do it there.) Our country agreed to a “Nanny State” in this regard a long time ago, for the social good of having an educated populace. Our society also agreed that the schools would provide food to the children they were educating, for the same reason.
You can argue that our schools shouldn’t be providing food for kids at all. There’s an argument to be made for that (not one I necessarily agree with, but one that can at least can be logically made–just don’t make it here, that’s a whole different issue). But, if you believe that it’s a public school’s job to provide children with food during the school day, you therefore cannot be against them “controlling” what your child can eat. Why not? Follow me here, because it can’t be any clearer:
THEY ALREADY DO THAT!
And they have to do that. There’s literally no way to not do it. How do those people screaming that their rights as parents are being taken away because their kid no longer gets chocolate milk in the lunch line suppose food gets into those cafeterias? Someone, somewhere, in some form of public, governmental office, decides what company gets the food contracts and what the menus for schools will be. Ergo, that person or persons (or policies set by them) are controlling what’s in the cafeteria, and therefore what children are eating. This isn’t rocket science. Food has to be purchased, and someone has to decide what gets purchased. Anything not purchased is, by definition, excluded. Someone not the child’s parent is making that decision already.
So, following through, the government already controls what your kid is getting at school and “violating parent’s rights.” Somehow, offering chocolate milk and pizza makes this less of a violation? Does it really make sense that this control should be used to teach kids bad eating habits, to feed them food that is provably unhealthy and that puts them at risk for poorer learning and future disease? Really? A parent could just as easily yell and berate the system as a “Nanny State” that is violating their rights because the school doesn’t provide organic, dye-free, free-range scrambled eggs. Or not offering gluten-free or vegan meals.
As a society, we’ve also agreed that we have a responsibility to protect and nurture children, even if their parents do not, or cannot, do so. Again, there’s an argument to be made against this, but unless you’re also arguing against Social Services, police intervention in child abuse, etc., you’re cherry picking (and if you are arguing against all those things, it’s way outside the scope of this blog, so move along). Doesn’t it follow that, since we believe (and have legislated as such) that the government does have a role in protecting and nurturing children, that it has the responsibility to make decisions about those children with their best interest in mind? It’s hard to find a reasonable argument that chocolate milk, processed, and sugar-laden foods are in anyone’s best interest, especially children’s.
Let’s recap, just for those who haven’t gotten it yet:
1. School lunches are already government controlled.
2. Schools, meaning government, decides what food goes into those cafeterias for kids to eat simply be deciding what food will be purchased and what food will not.
3. There IS NO CHOICE for the government to provide food without proving control.Your choices are for schools to provide healthier options with higher nutrition value, lower sugar, and less processing, or unhealthy options low in nutrients and high in known problem substances like sugar.
Here’s the truth: either you fight against school lunches being provided at all because you believe governmental interference is violating parent’s rights by dictating what food is available to children, or you fight for better quality food. Fighting for the government to limit your child’s food options to junk is just irresponsible.
Side note: I read a comment recently that said “vote with your dollars! If you stop buying school lunches, then they’ll have to change them.” People are so very out of touch with reality. Children who receive free or discounted lunches can’t exactly stop buying lunches and pack their own. They’re poor, which is why they’re getting the free or discounted lunches. They don’t have the money, and often don’t have the parental involvement, to pack their own lunches. A 7-year-old can’t go to the store with his mom’s food stamps and get healthy options to pack in his lunch, even if he understand what those might be. So, effectively, this commenter believes that wealthier kids should have good food available for the government, but if you’re too poor to protest financially, you’re screwed. Nice.
- Berkeley School Lunch Program: How to Improve School Lunches (ecochildsplay.com)