In December, President Barack Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act into law. Over the months since then, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has told state agencies and school food authorities how to implement various provisions in it.
Here are a few new federal guidelines coming to your child's cafeteria this fall: local school wellness policy implementation, review of local policies on meal charges and provision of alternate meals, procurement and processing of food service products and commodities, and professional standards for school food service. Those don't count the many other provisions being implemented in the 2012-13 school year.
Among the feds' child nutrition programs are the School Breakfast Program, the National School Lunch Program, the Summer Food Service Program, and the Child and Adult Care Food Program, to name a few.
Does anyone else find this bloating kids-cuisine bureaucracy trend disturbing?
Don't misunderstand me. I am all for helping a child who can't get a meal. And I think it's fantastic that schools are increasing food standards -- such as opting for 1 percent milk instead of 2 percent, replacing fat- and salt-laden processed chicken nuggets with those with lean chicken, and serving whole-wheat pizza over fatty pepperoni. More fruits, vegetables and whole grains and less fat, sugar and salt is always the way to go.
I just don't think it should take the federal government's overreach into our lives and lunches to make that happen. I think local citizens, communities and counties should rally together, show a little neighborly love and discover solutions for their own issues and downtrodden. That's the way it used to be done in America, before the federal government overreached its limits to try to solve most of our community problems. Is the federal government really our "only savior," as the president purported in 2009?
Like an enabling parent, the feds have contributed to the dismantling of local communities by not allowing them to grow up and solve their own issues themselves. When Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says that food stamps stimulate the U.S. economy, can't we see we are heading down the wrong road? Forty-five million, or 1 in 7, Americans being on food stamps is no reason to celebrate.
Outside of a host of new federal regulations and mandates upon schools and their lunches via the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, if schools show they've made federal changes, they will qualify for 6 cents more per meal per student, according to Kevin Concannon, the USDA undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer services. Six cents? How could they improve each meal with 6 cents?
In the end, how complicated is a kid's healthy lunch anyway? Apparently so complex that it takes the president and Congress to tell us what one is and enforce its consumption. But do we really need a nanny state to serve as meal nannies over our children and grandchildren's diet? Whatever happened to parents and guardians? Do parents really want the feds "making" their children's lunches?
The only way we are going to rebuild America is to take back one element at a time. And it starts with things as simple as fighting for our own kids' healthy lunches, educating ourselves about basics in nutrition and teaching our kids how to be responsible for their own health and fitness.
Thomas Jefferson was right when he said, "I think ... we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious."
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