Posted on April 28, 2011
Totalitarianism For Tots
School lunches are just a start
The prohibition on bagged lunches at Chicago's Little Village Academy elementary school was not the result of Michelle Obama's culinary reign of terror, as was widely assumed when it was first reported by the Chicago Tribune. In reality, the ban had been unilaterally enacted six years ago by principal Elsa Carmona. So, although there may be one little tyrant presiding over one little school, it is not indicative of a broader, nationwide campaign. Or is it?
Carmona's edict has just become newsworthy because of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, signed by President Obama in December. That law has imposed far stricter nutritional standards on school lunches, while at the same time rejecting all standards of edibility. Because the kids won't want to eat the gruesome grub, Little Village's forbidding them from bringing lunches from home may lead to their refusing to eat lunch at all.
While touting the new rules, the White House posted a sample of a weekly elementary school lunch menu online. If we fed many of these same items to the terrorist detainees at Guantanamo, the ACLU and Amnesty International would scream brutality, and for once they'd have a point.
Monday serves up a turkey and low-fat cheese sandwich on a whole wheat roll, with refried beans and cantaloupe. Tuesday's entree is whole wheat spaghetti with meat sauce and a whole wheat roll, with side dishes of cauliflower and kiwi fruit. Wednesday features a chef's salad, including chicken, low-fat cheese and low-fat dressing, accompanied by a whole wheat soft pretzel. If it's Thursday, it must be baked fish nuggets, with mashed potatoes and a whole wheat roll. Finally, Friday's treat consists of cheese pizza on whole wheat crust, with baked sweet potato fries and raw tomatoes. What, no acorns?
That's not a menu, it's an aisle at Home Depot. If you've never had the displeasure of trying whole wheat pizza, it's kind of like particleboard, before the glue has solidified. Having some variation of it on a daily basis is too much for grown-ups to stomach, let alone kids. To elementary school children, the difference between regular spaghetti and whole wheat spaghetti is like the difference between Spongebob Squarepants and Bill Moyers.
The question, then, is how to produce "healthy, hunger-free kids," if they won't eat the meals that are designed for that purpose. The new law doesn't answer that, instead leaving it up to the schools to decide for themselves. In addition, the federal government gives public schools financial incentives to sign up as many children as possible for the free -- i.e., taxpayer funded -- lunch program. Since most people would not consider free garbage to be a bargain, the schools will inevitably try to make participation compulsory.
Carmona justifies her brown bag prohibition by complaining that she'd seen children eating chips and other junk food, and imagined that this was somehow her business. Well, Mrs. Obama and her Nutritionistas have expanded the definition of junk food so that it overlaps with the four food groups. White bread, non-lean meats, buttered and salted vegetables, and regular milk and cheese are now counted among the enemies of the state.
The Little Village Academy is giving us a preview of this coming trend. Public schools will no longer be able to tolerate packed lunches, for fear of exposing the federal government's typical ineptitude. Let's suppose that one child is given the prescribed meal of turkey and low-fat cheese on whole wheat, but takes only a couple nibbles and throws the rest away. Another child's mother packs him a contraband sandwich of roast beef and cheddar on Italian bread, and he actually eats it. Which child is healthier and more hunger-free?
Home-schoolers have already demonstrated that do-it-yourselfers can educate children better than our public schools can, and in doing so have made themselves the bane of big-government liberals. Far be it for mere parents to also prove to be better at feeding their kids. Not only would that bruise a lot of liberal egos, but it would also mean that some children were eating better than others. What's next, some students getting better grades than others? Schoolyard games with winners and losers? O, the inequity!
Instead, the children must all be served the same sandpaper sandwiches, awarded the same score at the end of the game, and inculcated with the same left-wing propaganda. That way, nobody ever gets ahead. Of course, that's not the result that the kids' parents would want, but since when do they matter, anyway?
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