Free Markets, Free People

Nanny goes to the school cafeteria

I get so tired of these stories, but they have to be pointed out because they indicate a disturbing trend.  In this case, it’s just another in a long line of examples of bureaucrats unilaterally deciding to remove choice for everyone based on their arbitrary assessment of what is “good for you”.

The example this time is about some of the Chicago Public Schools, and in particular the Little Village Academy on Chicago’s West Side, have decided not to allow packed lunches from home.  This line in the story just drove me up the wall:

Principal Elsa Carmona said her intention is to protect students from their own unhealthful food choices.

It is like parents don’t even exist in her world.  It is like they should have no say in what their children eat if it doesn’t jibe with Ms. Carmona’s idea of what that should be.  Mona Charen calls it “coercive humanitarianism”.  I think that’s way too kind.  I call it bureaucratic authoritarianism and typical of petty bureaucrats who have the power to impose their will on others with little or no accountability requirements.

Perhaps the biggest point to made about this is parents are again marginalized with these sorts of decisions.  They’re forced to do what the bureaucrat decides they should do.  And it costs those parents who do take their child’s nutrition seriously and who do pack nutritious lunches the option (the freedom) to do so.

Of course, one supposes that part of the reason for imposing this unilateral ban on lunches from home is so the kids will “eat well”, yes?

At Little Village, most students must take the meals served in the cafeteria or go hungry or both. During a recent visit to the school, dozens of students took the lunch but threw most of it in the garbage uneaten. Though CPS has improved the nutritional quality of its meals this year, it also has seen a drop-off in meal participation among students, many of whom say the food tastes bad.

But as with most things, if you really drill down and “follow the money”, some of the bureaucratic insistence becomes a little clearer:

Any school that bans homemade lunches also puts more money in the pockets of the district’s food provider, Chartwells-Thompson. The federal government pays the district for each free or reduced-price lunch taken, and the caterer receives a set fee from the district per lunch.

And they really don’t care if the food goes in the child’s stomach or the trashcan.

Which brings us to this line in the story:

Such discussions over school lunches and healthy eating echo a larger national debate about the role government should play in individual food choices.

Frankly, I see no reason for debate – none of the government’s business.  I don’t need a super-nanny deciding what I can or can’t eat and I darn sure don’t want the government deciding what my children or grandchildren eat.

But … and you knew there was one … when government “pays” for health care, government will feel entitled and empowered to decide such things for individuals because bad decisions may affect your health and that would cost the government more than if you were forced to eat like it decides you should.

Yes there are national implications to this sort of bureaucratic nonsense, and somewhere out there in the bureaucratic/political incubator is a man or woman who will self-justify attempting to impose such a fundamental infringement on your freedom to choose for your own good.  And unfortunately many others will blithely go along.



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32 Responses to Nanny goes to the school cafeteria

  • Allow me to quote from the article:

    But parent Miguel Medina said he thinks the “no home lunch policy” is a good one. “The school food is very healthy,” he said, “and when they bring the food from home, there is no control over the food.”

    A parent is saying that when a child (I assume he is including his ‘tard-spawn in that “they” he uses to refer to the kids) brings lunch from home there is no control over what the kid is taking.

    Take a moment. Contemplate what that means.

    This is a God Damn full grown adult saying that he has no control what his own God Damn child takes to school.

    And this gem…

    Take the Claremont Academy Elementary School on the South Side. Over there you can bring a lunch to school, but the school “officials” will “…confiscate any snacks loaded with sugar or salt. (They often are returned after school.)” Right. That makes perfect sense. Because the kid won’t eat it after school. Noooo. If you’re not eating it at school, it takes all of the fun out of it! But do you know why they do it? If you ask Principal Rebecca Stinson she’ll tell you that “…most parents expect that the school will look out for their children.”

    If I were a parent, I would inform the school that if my child ever informed me that something I had sent with them (that was not illegal for them to possess) was ever confiscated – or if they somehow managed to keep my child from eating any food I sent with them – I would come express my displeasure all over whatever jackbooted dickwipe saw fit to act like they had more authority than they really had.

  • And, if you TOLERATE ObamaCare, this is only the beginning.
    You and I have to make this the MOST disobeyed law in American history if it get to that.

  • Makes you wonder how countries like New Zealand manage to not kill their kids, where the standard is (and has been for many decades) a packed lunch and there is no American or European style mass-serving cafeteria.

    • Further to this, in this sort of school kids swap foods for variety and also use it as currency to exchange for other things. But I guess you don’t want kids learning about trade, value of things, and all that useful stuff. They might start thinking that they actually deserve to keep some of their acquired goods, or even worse, discover how well a black-market can function!

  • student cringes at an enchilada dish

    OMG, I had to read the caption to figure out what it was in the photo.
    Gone are the days of “mystery meat” .. now replaced with a “mystery enchilada” dish.
    Hey, school lunches were provided by the government in response to the finding that too many inductees were substandard during WWI.  Yes, it is a military industrial complex invention, so we will have more of the “best and brightest” to send off to war.

    • The highlight of the week in high school was Wed.  Mexican food day in San Antonio.  For $.35, I got the best cheese enchiladas I’ve ever had, excellent Spanish rice, refried beans, chocolate cake, and milk.
      It was the only day I would eat cafeteria food.

    • I, too, was horrified at that picture, and I am not now, nor have I ever been, known as a picky eater. And I have the waist size to prove it. How on earth can we be having a childhood obesity epidemic with that kind of thing being fed to children?

  • Wait until the first Muslim family challenges the ‘ban’ due to the cafeteria not serving ‘acceptable’ foods.

    Bye bye policy.

    • … but is it kosher ?   It’s always interesting when you find out that kosher food meets most, if not all, requirements for Muslims.
      It always reminds me of the funniest religion joke every, by Emo Philips

      Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, “Don’t do it!” He said, “Nobody loves me.” I said, “God loves you. Do you believe in God?”
      He said, “Yes.” I said, “Are you a Christian or a Jew?” He said, “A Christian.” I said, “Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?” He said, “Protestant.” I said, “Me, too! What franchise?” He said, “Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?” He said, “Northern Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?”
      He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?” He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region.” I said, “Me, too!”
      Northern Conservative†Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?” He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912.” I said, “Die, heretic!” And I pushed him over.

    • Then they just ban pork, and hire some Muslim leaders to check the food.

  • Hey, I know the following is a ridiculous proposal, but I’ll throw it out anyway just to provoke discussion.

    A parent might consider informing the principal: “I consider my own ideas on nutrition superior to yours.  The lunch I give my child is my property placed in my child’s custody for her benefit.  If you take my child’s lunch, I’ll summon the police and have you arrested for theft.”

    I mention this because eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches is not a crime, but taking something that doesn’t belong to you is a crime, even if you are the principal of a school (provided, of course that what the principal confiscates isn’t a weapon, illicit drugs, or something similar).

    I’m not sure why a police force would be bound to enforce the arbitrary rule of a school principal while ignoring behavior which in most circumstances is a crime.

    I feel a little foolish for hitting “Submit Comment”, but what the heck?  Discuss amongst yourselves.

    —Tom Nally, New Orleans

    • Heh heh heh…. I LIKE IT!

    • I suggest that it’s an issue of considering children as minors who, by definition, cannot make decisions for themselves and so must be kept under control, either by their parents or by some person(s) designated to act in loco parentis.  Therefore, parents / guardians / designated people are entitled to determine what a child may / may not eat or wear; force a child to do some labor (cleaning blackboards, passing out papers, homework, etc.); confine the child without trial (detention); and even assault the child (spankings / corporal punishment).

      I think that the problem here is a lack of shared values: the values held / enforced by the school do not appear to closely match those of the larger community.

    • You’d have to supply the child with a dish of some substantial value.
      My first thought was to give them a White House favorite, wagyu, but considering the child probably would only eat 4 or 5 oz, the price of $100/lb doesn’t get you to felony territory.  Besides, they might need a (gasp!) steak knife to eat it .. so I don’t want to go there.

  • Wasn’t there a story similar to this out of Scotland a few weeks ago?  Something about Teh AuthoriTAHS confiscating lunch boxes and considering locking the kids in school to stop them going off-site to get lunch because Scottish school food is so bloody bland and tasteless due to the removal of all the salt, sugar and fat?


    Devil’s advocate time:

    McQIt is like parents don’t even exist in her world.  It is like they should have no say in what their children eat if it doesn’t jibe with Ms. Carmona’s idea of what that should be.  Mona Charen calls it “coercive humanitarianism”. 

    Given the low caliber of some parents these days (talk to public school teachers, especially from grammar schools, about this), it’s not surprising that school officials feel compelled from a sense of humanity to do SOMETHING.  While I don’t support this sort of nanny state foolishness, I suggest that it is motivated less by a desire to control and more by a genuine impulse – misguided as it may be in its extreme form – to take good care of the children.  Who among us would not act to provide a hungry kid with a square meal, a notebook and pencil, decent clothes, even a bath, if he was placed under our care for even an hour or two each day and we saw that he desperately needed it?

    O’ course, “square meal” is in the eye of the beholder.  I have friends who teach public school here in No. Carolina, and even the TEACHERS aren’t allowed to have salt for their food or sugar for their tea at lunch.

    Scott Jacobs – A parent is saying that when a child (I assume he is including his ‘tard-spawn in that “they” he uses to refer to the kids) brings lunch from home there is no control over what the kid is taking. [emphasis original – dj505]

    Sad to say that there are parents like that out there.  It’s as if Junior is an alien life form that showed up one day, unannounced, unexpected, and uninvited, and Mommy and Daddy believe that they lack both the expertise and the responsibility to take care of it… er, him.  A coworker of mine used to be a grammar school teacher.  She tells me that she asked a parent to come in for a conference because Little Johnny was failing to turn in his homework.  Quoth Mommy: “Why are you telling ME???  I can’t do anything with him.  It’s YOUR job.”

    To a very limited extent, given that do-gooders will see parents jailed for such “crimes” as spanking their naughty child or daring to put a Twinkie in his lunchbox, can you blame them?

  • Let me guess: Chartwells-Thompson is union.

  • But with allergies and any medical issue, of course, we would make an exception.

    Yeah, my kids have an allergy.  In fact, my whole family has an allergic reaction to despotic authoritarianism.

    • Yes, but do they break out in hives?  Or pikes and guns?

      • I like it.
        Although, I was speaking in the abstract – as I do not have any children.  If I did, they would surely be proficient in pikes, guns, and the like.
        But either way, if I lived in the district, I would surely use my metaphoric pike and pin her to the electoral sideline.
        I fear I may have taken this metaphor too far.  Oh, well…

        • Electoral pikes are preferred since they escorted George III to the door (except for that unfortunate 4 year incident 150 year ago – the anniversary of which we have this very day)

        • “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.”

  • My own $.02 from 15 years with the Los Angeles Unified School District — Ms. Carmona is kidding herself (and everybody else) if she really thinks this is going to get the students to eat healthy.  These are kids.  With the rare exception of very driven athletes, kids are going to eat what they like the taste of, which means containing large quantities of salt and/or fat and/or sugar.  Free/not free, allowed/not allowed, doesn’t enter into it.  If they can get their hands on it, they’ll eat it, and there’s virtually no way the school can keep them from getting their hands on it.  (On the plus side, banning the stuff means the students get an education in black markets and barter systems, so it’s not a total waste.  It’s still a grotesque abrogation of parents’ rights, however).

    • “banning the stuff means the students get an education in black markets and barter systems,”

      Probably the only useful thing they learn, given the dismal record of public education and the dismal economic outlook.

      •  “the dismal record of public education”

        Probably ‘the dismal output of the public education system’ would be more accurate, but still incomplete. Public education is not entirely to blame.