The Food Police have Arrived!

I debated long and hard with myself over the last two days as to whether this incident really rose to “blogworthiness” in an election year political blog.  The right side of my brain won the debate so here’s my rant!

Last month in an elementary school in Hoke County North Carolina, the food police ( under the guise of a school official) arrived with a vengence – saving a four year old toddler from her Mother’s home packed lunch. Be afraid, American parents, be very afraid.  Uncle Sam has now decided that the government is better equipped to feed your children than you are.

According to the Carolina Journal,  A preschooler at West Hoke Elementary School ate three chicken nuggets for lunch Jan. 30 because the school told her the lunch her mother packed was not nutritious.
The girl’s turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips, and apple juice did not meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines, according to the interpretation of the person who was inspecting all lunch boxes in the More at Four classroom that day.
The Division of Child Development and Early Education at the Department of Health and Human Services requires all lunches served in pre-kindergarten programs – including in-home day care centers – to meet USDA guidelines. That means lunches must consist of one serving of meat, one serving of milk, one serving of grain, and two servings of fruit or vegetables, even if the lunches are brought from home.
When home-packed lunches do not include all of the required items, child care providers must supplement them with the missing ones.
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.
“I don’t feel that I should pay for a cafeteria lunch when I provide lunch for her from home,” the mother wrote in a complaint to her state representative, Republican G.L. Pridgen of Robeson County.
The girl’s grandmother, who sometimes helps pack her lunch, told Carolina Journal that she is a petite, picky 4-year-old who eats white whole wheat bread and is not big on vegetables.
“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. your lunch isn’t right,’ and she’s thinking there’s something wrong with her food.”
While the mother and grandmother thought the potato chips and lack of vegetable were what disqualified the lunch, a spokeswoman for the Division of Child Development said that should not have been a problem.
“With a turkey sandwich, that covers your protein, your grain, and if it had cheese on it, that’s the dairy,” said Jani Kozlowski, the fiscal and statutory policy manager for the division. “It sounds like the lunch itself would’ve met all of the standard.” The lunch has to include a fruit or vegetable, but not both, she said.
There are no clear restrictions about what additional items – like potato chips – can be included in preschoolers’ lunch boxes.
“If a parent sends their child with a Coke and a Twinkie, the child care provider is going to need to provide a balanced lunch for the child,” Kozlowski said.
Ultimately, the child care provider can’t take the Coke and Twinkie away from the child, but Kozlowski said she “would think the Pre-K provider would talk with the parent about that not being a healthy choice for their child.”

Now for clarification, here is the state regulation that was cited in this case:

“Sites must provide breakfast and/or snacks and lunch meeting USDA requirements during the regular school day. The partial/full cost of meals may be charged when families do not qualify for free/reduced price meals.
“When children bring their own food for meals and snacks to the center, if the food does not meet the specified nutritional requirements, the center must provide additional food necessary to meet those requirements.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME????  A parent sends a perfectly acceptable home made sack lunch to school with their child, and our government thinks its THEIR business to OVERSEE the meal. A school official, citing a state regulation, decides that chicken nuggets are a healthier alternative to a turkey on Whole wheat sandwich?  Excuse me? Isn’t this just one more example of BIG BROTHER government over stepping its boundaries and trying to insinuate itself into our daily lives.  Enmeshed and entangled!  Get out of my lunch box!  One more slippery step on this slippery slope of government intrusion into our private lives.  Looks like I’m going to have to put the ACLU on my speed dial.


9 thoughts on “The Food Police have Arrived!

  1. I have planned many USDA standard meals. Though I work at a private school and not under the strict EYE of BIG Bro.there is some good point to the standards.The USDA guidelines say that a lunch must consist of one serving of meat, one serving of milk, one serving of grain, and two servings of fruit or vegetables,
    But what right does anyone have to regulate what a parent chooses for their child’s home made lunch. And IF they wanted to add 8oz if LIQUID milk than that is great. To teach that we need milk for our bones to grow strong, Then another thing, what if this child had a milk allergy. Oh let’s just pray for this nation and seek His face.

  2. Good points Deb. I understand the need for guidelines within the school for SCHOOL made lunches, but when they start policing what parents send from home a line has been crossed.

    • If you think the schools are evil tools of the government, you might have a reason to be concerned. I have no problem with at all with a caring, trained professional checking to see that all the children are eating a healthy lunch at school. Not all parents are able to pack a balanced meal, and some children are having to fend for themselves in the morning. Making sure every child eats a good, healthy meal is hardly something to be concerned about, IMO.

      • Allen, first off, thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts with us here at Liberty Leaking. We appreciate all ideas and love a good old fashioned debate on policy ere! Now for the debate…:)! First- you write that perhaps not all parents are able to pack a balanced meal for their children. We already have a safety net in place for that situation. The schools, subsidized by the government, already have in place the free breakfast and free or reduced price lunch program for children whose parents are struggling with financial hardship. I have ABSOLUTELY no problem with that at all. The thought of any child going hungry in this country sickens me. BUT THAT IS IN NO WAY THE ISSUE HERE! This child was sent to school with a lovely lunch prepared by a caring Mom who knew her child’s nutritional needs and taste preferences. MY PROBLEM is with a system set in motion that REPLACED this child’s hand packed lunch of turkey and swiss on white wheat bread, fruit, chips and a juice drink for CHICKEN NUGGETS under the misguided auspices of KNOWING BETTER THE CHILD’S NEEDS THAN THE MOTHER! WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!!!! Look me in the face(well thru internet, of course!) and tell me the processed chicken nugget meal was more nutritionally sound than the wholesome sandwich and fruit. Come one. 🙂 SO again, this is not about a school system making sure a hungry student got a meal, but is instead about a school official trying to over ride a parent’s responsibility. SO I say again, get out of my child’s lunch box!!!!!

      • I get that some of you don’t like what happened in this one instance. I don’t, either. But you are saying because of this one incident, no one should ever look into a lunch brought from home. Suppose a child showed up every day with a Happy Meal from McDonald’s for lunch. Or suppose they came in with a bag of candy for lunch. You are saying that if a child comes to school with a lunch from home, the school has no authority to question or even take notice of what the child is eating.

        There are serious problems in this country, and schools trying to tell us what to feed our kids is not one of them. Finding a news story about one incident, and then blowing it all out of proportion, while ignoring the obvious reasons for the policy, doesn’t help anyone. I really don’t get this idea from some that the schools are somehow our enemies.

  3. Wisi,
    You’re right on target. This goes to the heart of freedom and is a horrible example of intrusion. Snooping in your kid’s lunch box? I’m speechless and glad you’re not.

    • This has nothing to do with “freedom,” and has everything to do with trying to look out for the children. Not all have parents who are packing them a nice, healthy lunch every day. Having a school official keeping an eye on lunches seems like a caring thing to do. This may be hard to believe, but those teachers and other school officials are American people just like the rest of us. They have children in school, too. There is no plot to take away your freedom by snooping in children’s lunches.

      • Thanks for commenting, Allen.
        I won’t try to convince you to change your view. I’d just like to say that I’m a former teacher and I have seen some of the things you mention. But I don’t see a plot behind every government program that I disagree with.
        But I do very much disagree that the government knows how to take care of my kids better than I do. And it _is_ an issue of freedom. As a parent, I have the right _and_ the responsibility to take care of my children to the best of my ability. I don’t believe anyone has the right to second-guess my decisions about my kids unless there is clear evidence that abuse is occurring.
        I don’t want kids to suffer any more than you do. For the parents who don’t behave responsibly, the school should be engaging Social Services to investigate. It makes more sense to me for the government to stay out of the way unless there is reason to believe that abuse is taking place. It’s placing responsibility where it belongs – not to mention being a lot cheaper.
        Again, thanks for responding. We welcome any response that is thoughtful and respectful.

  4. Thanks for shining a light on this. Talk about Big Brother Cafe…it’s unbelievable that our country has devolved into this kind of nanny state. What’s next…encouraging the 4-year-old to turn in her parents for eating doughnuts? Obviously, there are irresponsible parents out there, but this is not an example of that. There should be a line of reason, but in this case, it seems like the food police stepped over it.

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