Parents who send their children to public schools have two options when it comes to food; have the kid eat the school provided lunches or pack lunches for the kid. Well it appears as through the latter option is going away as the Stasi are inspecting lunches and confiscating those that aren’t approved by the state:
The West Hoke Elementary School student was in her More at Four classroom when a U.S. Department of Agriculture agent who was inspecting lunch boxes decided that her packed lunch — which consisted of a turkey and cheese sandwich, a banana, apple juice and potato chips — “did not meet USDA guidelines,” the Journal reports.
The decision was made under consideration of a regulation put in place by the the Division of Child Development and Early Education at the Department of Health and Human Services, which requires all lunches served in pre-kindergarten programs to meet USDA guidelines.
In other words the state makes the requirements. If you don’t agree with those requirements that’s just too fucking bad. Do you believe your child needs turkey and cheese instead of the pink goo used to make chicken nuggest? Too bad, the state has deemed that you believe wrong and will steal your child’s lunch just like it steals your money.
This is no longer the land of the free, it is a police state where every action is controlled by the state at the point of a gun.
EDIT: 2012-02-16 13:20: The link posted by Nicole calls several aspects of this story into question. Namely the situation has become a bit of a he said, she said situatation:
Additionally, citing the above-linked statement, a local TV news outlet which had jumped on the bandwagon claims that “the agency says it gave the little girl milk to offset a missing dairy item.” However, this claim does not appear to be in the cited statement.
The TV station’s update further quotes the school district’s superintendent as saying that the child was simply instructed (it is unclear by whom, and it is unclear whether the child was first asked whether she wanted milk) to go through the lunch line to get some milk, and that the superintendent thinks “that the child became confused about what she had to do. I think the child, instead of going over and picking up the milk, I think the child, for whatever reason, thought she had to go through the line and get a school meal which, that’s not our policy.”
In other words one of two possibilities exist; either an overzealous employee, given legitimacy by the state, ordered the girl to get a school provided lunch or the child was simply order to get milk but became confused. It does sound as though the lunch was not confiscated, which is a relief to know. What becomes far more interesting though is the following:
Notably, as the second-linked story above suggests, the mother’s main gripe here does not even appear to be with this “state agent,” but instead with the school’s teachers, who continue to give the girl milk and vegetables despite letters from the mother asking them not to.
What is not made clear is why the mother desired her child not to be provided milk and vegetables. This is of importance because it is very possible that the child has allergies that must be avoided or the family has religious reasons (for example if they’re strict Orthodox Jews they may require food to be kosher). Regardless the mother’s wishes were ignore. The following claim is then made:
The mother apparently objects to this option being provided to her daughter, not because of any health concerns or the like, but because she incorrectly believes that she will be charged additional money for her child being provided this option.
Of course this statement is in question because we do not know if there is a health concern regarding the child or not, that is never made clear. It seems to me that the mother had some kind of reason for wishing her child not be provided certain foodstuffs and that reasoning is important to know. The author is also unaware of how the state only expands its powers:
Since this is also an opt-in program, there is no chance of this becoming some sort of generally applicable concern even to the extent there is some sort of nanny state concern here. If the mother has some sort of ethical problem with her child being provided with the option of drinking milk or eating vegetables at school, then she is surely free to send her child to an unsubsidized day care program.
Emphasis mine. The state often uses opt-in programs to field test new powers and authorities before making them mandatory elsewhere. Saying there is no chance of this situation becoming generally applicable shows a gross lack of understanding in how governmental powers expand. I also find the second claim interesting because it’s a play on the statist’s usual rebuttal of, “If you don’t like it leave.” Apparently the state should provided these subsidized services, make everybody pay for them at the point of a gun, but if you partake in one of these programs that you’re forced to pay for you should have no say in how it’s run. That sounds like a typical statist to me.
At most, the only actual concern here, hinted at by the second-linked article, is the expense to the taxpayer of providing the extra food free of charge. Then again, since we are definitionally dealing with children whose parents will often lack the resources to provide a consistently balanced lunch, and since the whole point of the program is to provide those children with a pre-K experience that their parents’ income would otherwise prevent, this would not seem to be a tremendously important concern.
Again, emphasis mine. So we’re definitely dealing with a maybe here.
I’m going to toss this story into the he said, she said pile. Evidence exists that both sides of the story are exaggerated and contain misunderstandings and conjecture. It is my belief that the truth lies somewhere between the extremes although we’re unlikely to ever find out what the truth is.
4 thoughts on “The Stasi in School Lunchrooms”
This article is highly relevant to this post:
The post has been updated to reflect your newly provided information. It appears as though there is a lot of finger pointing and exaggerating on both sides making it almost impossible to know what really happened.
If you read the original two stories, you will see that there are direct quotes in which the mother repeatedly acknowledges that concern over being charged was the basis for her objection.
It’s also not a true he-said/she-said. The mother is not a witness to any of this, but is the sole source of the allegations and the sole person quoted in any of the original stories as a factual source of what happened. She was presumably relaying what her four year old told her. But, have you ever talked to a four year old? Their explanations of events tend to be….interesting.
As for me being a “statist” it would be helpful to know that I’m actually a pretty firm libertarian who voted for both Ron Paul and Bob Barr in 2008, and will almost certainly vote for Ron Paul in a few weeks and for Gary Johnson come November. Nor am I naive about the state; I just think that on the grand scale of things, there are things worth getting outraged about and things that aren’t, and that getting outraged about the latter makes it a lot tougher for outrage about the former to go anywhere.
As for “if you don’t like it, leave it,” when the government provides an entirely optional, but fully subsidized, service with limited spots in an arena where there is no shortage of private sector competition (and day care is definitely such a market), then choosing that option absolutely means agreeing to the conditions of that program just as enrolling in a private day care absolutely means agreeing to the conditions of that day care.
See stated she was concerned about paying for the meals but nowhere did she say it was her primary or only concern. Likewise you’re also lumping in her objection with her child being provided milk and vegetables with this situation specifically. Her reason for wanting to opt her child out of receiving milk and vegetables could very well be health or religion related but when facing possible charges for something she never wanted to purchase in the first place then the cost may have become the focus of her anger. It’s conjecture unless she makes a statement expressing her reason for sending the original letters (if she did make such statement in one of the articles and I missed it then I apologize, but I saw no such clarification made in either article).
In other words we’re dealing with indirect chains of evidence, just as the this statement:
Is relying on indirect evidence. While the DHHS and DCDEE may not have given any such instructions the person who commanded the child to enter the lunch line may have acted outside of specifically given orders. In other words the situation is a murky mess and without much in the way of direct eye witnesses giving testimony. Honestly the reputation of a random four year-old and a random state agency are equal in my book.
Regardless the, “If you don’t like it leave!” statement is a very statist sentiment. I’m glad to hear you are a libertarian, although I will point out that there are varying degrees of libertarian. What qualifies as a statist statement is going to be different when talking to a constitutionalist libertarian and a anarcho-capitalist.
What outrages a person is ultimately subjective. As a voluntaryist I find any scenario where somebody was coerced into action they had no desire to make as worthy of outrage.
No government provided service is entirely optional, as tax dollars are used to fund it. That is to say enrollment is restricted and whether a parent wants to enroll is optional, but the fact of the matter is the people of the United States are still forced to pay for it. The mother is a tax payer, if not through income then through sales and possibly property tax. As she is a tax payer she should have every right to have a say in how these programs are run.
Private institutions are able to make their own rules because those who are paying customers are doing so voluntarily (unless government force coerced them into being a customer). If a private daycare provider says that a child must eat the provided lunch the parent can cease paying that provider and seek another. When the state says that a child must eat the provided lunch the parent can seek another provider but are still force to pay for the government program.
Regardless I do appreciate the article you wrote as it did demonstrate that the situation is far from straight forward. Without it I wouldn’t have the other side of the story and instead of tossing my hands into the air and saying any concrete facts are unreachable I’d still have the firm belief that something went horribly wrong.
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