The Food Police Want You!

 

Political Cartoons by Chuck Asay

Chicago school bans some lunches brought from home

To encourage healthful eating, Chicago school doesn’t allow kids to bring lunches or certain snacks from home — and some parents, and many students, aren’t fans of the policy

At Little Village Academy on Chicago’s West Side, students are not allowed to pack lunches from home. Unless they have a medical excuse, they must eat the food served in the cafeteria.

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

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.

Now there’s the truth of this I-know-better-than-you feel good Liberalism.
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.

Dozens of hands flew in the air and fellow students shouted along: “We should bring our own lunch! We should bring our own lunch! We should bring our own lunch!”

A Food Rebellion against government control? 🙂

“Nutrition wise, it is better for the children to eat at the school,” Carmona said. “It’s about the nutrition and the excellent quality food that they are able to serve (in the lunchroom). It’s milk versus a Coke. But with allergies and any medical issue, of course, we would make an exception.”

Carmona said she created the policy six years ago after watching students bring “bottles of soda and flaming hot chips” on field trips for their lunch. Although she would not name any other schools that employ such practices, she said it was fairly common.

A Chicago Public Schools spokeswoman said she could not say how many schools prohibit packed lunches and that decision is left to the judgment of the principals.

“While there is no formal policy, principals use common sense judgment based on their individual school environments,” Monique Bond wrote in an email. “In this case, this principal is encouraging the healthier choices and attempting to make an impact that extends beyond the classroom.”

No formal policy, but there is one anyhow. So they can retreat fast and have denialability. How bureaucratic is that!

“Some of the kids don’t like the food they give at our school for lunch or breakfast,” said Little Village parent Erica Martinez. “So it would be a good idea if they could bring their lunch so they could at least eat something.”

“(My grandson) is really picky about what he eats,” said Anna Torrez, who was picking up the boy from school. “I think they should be able to bring their lunch. Other schools let them. But at this school, they don’t.”

At Claremont Academy Elementary School on the South Side, officials allow packed lunches but confiscate any snacks loaded with sugar or salt. (They often are returned after school.) Principal Rebecca Stinson said that though students may not like it, she has yet to hear a parent complain.

“The kids may have money or earn money and (buy junk food) without their parents’ knowledge,” Stinson said, adding that most parents expect that the school will look out for their children.

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

“This is such a fundamental infringement on parental responsibility,” said J. Justin Wilson, a senior researcher at the Washington-based Center for Consumer Freedom, which is partially funded by the food industry.

“Would the school balk if the parent wanted to prepare a healthier meal?” Wilson said. “This is the perfect illustration of how the government’s one-size-fits-all mandate on nutrition fails time and time again. Some parents may want to pack a gluten-free meal for a child, and others may have no problem with a child enjoying soda.”

For many CPS parents, the idea of forbidding home-packed lunches would be unthinkable. If their children do not qualify for free or reduced-price meals, such a policy would require them to pay $2.25 a day for food they don’t necessarily like.

“We don’t spend anywhere close to that on my son’s daily intake of a sandwich (lovingly cut into the shape of a Star Wars ship), Goldfish crackers and milk,” education policy professor Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach wrote in an email. Her son attends Nettelhorst Elementary School in Lakeview. “Not only would mandatory school lunches worsen the dietary quality of most kids’ lunches at Nettelhorst, but it would also cost more out of pocket to most parents! There is no chance the parents would stand for that.”

Many Little Village students claim that, given the opportunity, they would make sound choices.

“They’re afraid that we’ll all bring in greasy food instead of healthy food and it won’t be as good as what they give us at school,” said student Yesenia Gutierrez. “It’s really lame. If we could bring in our own lunches, everyone knows what they’d bring. For example, the vegetarians could bring in their own veggie food.”

“I would bring a sandwich or a Subway and maybe a juice,” said seventh-grader Ashley Valdez.

Second-grader Gerardo Ramos said, “I would bring a banana, orange and some grapes.”

“I would bring a juice and like a sandwich,” said fourth-grader Eric Sanchez.

“Sometimes I would bring the healthy stuff,” second-grader Julian Ruiz said, “but sometimes I would bring Lunchables.”

But Mama Government knows better!! And you will do as your told or else!

One emerging feel-good policy for fighting childhood obesity involves schools sending Body Mass Index (BMI) “reports” to parents in hopes of educating them about their kids’ weight. But like many heavy-handed instruments used by nanny-state bureaucrats to suggest lifestyle modifications, this one has unintended consequences.

Consider what happened in one Ohio elementary school when BMI scores were given directly to kids instead of the being mailed to their moms and dads. One parent said her child was declared obese and “refused to eat dinner” as a result of the administrative blunder. Avon Lake (Ohio) Schools Superintendent Robert Scott responded, “It’s unfortunate this happened, but it’s not bad information to have.” (Except, presumably, if it causes kids to develop eating disorders.) (Consumer Freedom)

So to get the BMI, you’d have to do the measurements, right? Was this discussed with the parents first? And what lie did they tell the kids?

Students were weighed and their BMI calculated in accordance with a new state law known as the Healthy Choices for Healthy Children Act that was enacted in June 2010. It requires every school district in the state to do the screening and provide the data to parents for students in kindergarten, third, fifth and ninth grades.

This is the first year districts were required to do the additional screening and school officials had the option to secure a waiver to opt out if the mandate caused a burden.

Avon Lake school nurse Sara Curtan said the BMI measures were done during the same cycle of hearing and eyesight screenings the district also does each year. School nurses used each student’s birth date, date of screening, height, weight and gender to calculate the BMI in accordance to a system used by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

Scott said parents had the opportunity to opt out of having their child tested. (Chronicle-Telegram)

Ummm….Yeah…sure….

And even if you work for Mama Government those above you will still want to run your life too.

No overbearing perfume. No obscene pictures. And definitely no French fries for work lunches.

That’s the new edict for employees of the same city Health Department that brought you calorie-counting menus and snuffed out smoking on beaches and in parks.

The updated rules – which range from what workers can serve at agency powwows to how loud they can talk in the office – come as the Health Department begins to move into its new Queens digs today.

A set of guidelines for “Life in the Cubicle Village” sent to employees asks them to avoid wearing products with “noticeable odors” or posting “any displays, photos, cartoons, or other personal items that may be offensive.”

They also should avoid eavesdropping.

If they can’t – “at least resist the urge to add your comments,” the cubicle rules recommend.

Employees also got a bright-colored brochure stipulating what can and can’t be served at meetings and parties.

Tap water is a menu must when food or drinks are served. Other beverages must be less than 25 calories per 8 ounces.

“Cut muffins and bagels into halves or quarters, or order mini sizes. Offer thinly-sliced, whole-grain bread,” the brochure states.

Deep-fried foods are an absolute no-no and “cannot be served.”

For celebrations, cake and air-popped popcorn – “popped at the party and served in brown paper lunch bags” – are allowed.

But when a “celebration cake” is served, cookies can’t be offered.

“These standards are mandatory for meetings and events sponsored by the Health Department,” the brochure states.

Health honchos say they are just practicing what they preach.

“The Health Department is leading by example by updating its guidelines for food and beverages served at agency meetings and events,” spokeswoman Erin Brady said.

Still, one Health Department worker said she was surprised by the brochure’s nitpicking detail.

“This seems like micromanaging,” she said.

The cubicle village tips are good – but unnecessary – advice, she said. “As somebody who does not have sensitivity to perfumes or scents or smells of people’s foods, I thought it was kind of ridiculous, though I’m sure the people who do have those kinds of problems are grateful.”

The gerbil-loving food choices are in step with Health Commissioner Thomas Farley’s push to reduce New Yorkers salt, sugar and alcohol consumption.

The Daily News reported in December that he put the kibosh on booze at the agency’s holiday bash and called for a menu that included “healthy options.” (NY Daily News)

So just remember, Mama Government knows better and is protecting you from your evil impulses and evil corporate food porn. 🙂

And ObamaCare won’t go there, just because the government will be in charge of your health Care. 🙂

Rejoice!

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