Does the government have a right to tell your child what to eat for lunch?
A four-year-old preschooler at West Hoke Elementary School in North Carolina opted to eat just three chicken nuggets from the school cafeteria after her own lunch was deemed ‘unhealthy’ by a state inspector.
The girl’s mother had packed her a sack lunch containing a turkey and cheese sandwich, a banana, potato chips, and apple juice. I’m impressed. My preschooler’s lunch usually consists of a tube of yogurt, a string cheese, Pirate’s Booty, and some sort of juice box. Kids are picky, and when she’s at school, my main concern is that she gets some sustenance. We fill in with grains, fruit, and veggies at home, because we’re her parents, and we have authority over our daughter and her diet.
That’s not the case at West Hoke, apparently. Somehow, the lunch failed to meet the U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines that state that healthy meals must include one serving of meat, one serving of milk, one serving of grain, and two servings of fruit or vegetables. The Division of Child Development and Early Education at the Department of Health and Human Services requires all lunches served in pre-kindergarten programs to satisfy those requirements.
The lunch inspector decided that the girl’s lunch was unsatisfactory, and set a tray from the cafeteria in front of her. The girl chose to eat three chicken nuggets and throw the rest away. Her mother was then charged $1.25 for the hot meal.
Lunch inspector? Why is there an agent inspecting lunches? Let’s have a little common sense. Of course there should be lunch supervisors, and if they see a kid without anything to eat, they should help said kid get something to eat. They should let the child’s teacher know, and the teacher should work with the parents to find out if the lunch was forgotten, lost, traded for Pokémon cards, or nonexistent due to lack of grocery money.
There are programs available to help kids from low-income families eat, at the parents’ behest. It is not up to some random government official to judge my parenting and how I choose to feed my own child, and decide that my mothering isn’t good enough. It is none of their business what my kid eats, even if it’s Twinkies and Coca-Cola. They are mine until they’re 18, not Uncle Sam’s.
Once upon a time, there was another government that claimed, “Nutrition is not a private matter.” It was the Nazi’s. Just saying.