Nanny State and School Lunches

The fight over school lunches intensified Tuesday as first lady Michelle Obama defended her signature school-nutrition program during a meeting with school officials and decried efforts in Congress to allow schools to delay the program.

“Now is not the time to roll back everything we have worked for,” Ms Obama said[.]

Part of the fight, presently, is over a House proposal to waive the school “nutrition” program’s requirements for those schools that can’t afford to comply. Part of the fight is over puny servings that leave the student hungry—and so just as distracted from learning as if he had eaten a sugar-laden lunch. Part of the fight is over who should pay for the mandated lunching system, even by those schools able to “afford” those costs.

But none of the fight is over whether States should determine for themselves what their schools should be doing in their cafeterias. Worse, none of the fight is over what the parents should be doing about their children’s nutrition.

Whose responsibility are the kids, after all? Certainly not the schools’. Certainly not the State governments’. Most especially not the Federal government’s.

The parents are responsible for their own children. If their kids aren’t getting adequate lunches at school, and that argument is a reasonable one, then the parents should be sending their kids to those schools with sack lunches that are balanced and nutritious and with appropriate (the parents’ definition, not government’s) serving sizes. And an enjoyable treat—which may be a sugar bomb, it may be an extra piece of fruit, it may be…. That treat should be determined by what the responsible parents have been teaching their kids, from the cradle, about healthy as well as fun eating. That treat should not at all be influenced by a government intruding into a family’s lunch table.

Greater parental involvement won’t help much in improving the nutrition of children from poverty-stricken (true poverty, not the Federal Poverty Guideline defined poverty) homes, whose only real meal too often comes from the school they attend. But those children aren’t helped, either, by a Federally-mandated one-size-fits-all law that requires schools in well-to-do districts to supply what those children’s well-to-do parents should be supplying. Nor are those children helped who are in school districts that can’t afford yet another costly Federal mandate and so must sacrifice education on the Church of Nanny State’s altar of “appropriate” school lunches.

However, limiting an overreaching, private resource-grasping (can you say taxes?) Federal government will leave more resources in the private economy where they belong. From that better private economy, family, friends, church, charity, et al., will be much better equipped to help the children in those truly poverty stricken families, and by being local being able to apply resources directly and more efficiently to those most needing the help.

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