May 27 2014

War on Parents: Lunch Edition

Abby Schachter

Food fight! As Julie noted recently, First Lady Michelle Obama is very unhappy with plans by congressional Republicans to offer waivers to schools that want to opt out of her specially designed school lunch program.

It would be useful, of course, if Mrs. Obama and the administration recognized that in this case, it isn’t Republicans who are objecting to FLOTUS’s diet of whole grains and limited calories. If the First Lady and her supporters at the USDA, which administers the National School Lunch Program, would take a moment to look at the facts, they’d notice that it is school administrators, parents and especially students, not Republican politicians, who hate Mrs. Obama’s meal plan.

As Michelle Malkin notes is a recent column:

Progressives blame kid-hating Republicans and greedy businesses for the revolt against Mrs. Obama's failed policies. But the truth is right around the corner in your students' cafeterias. Districts are losing money. Discarded food is piling high. Kids are going off-campus to fill their tummies or just going hungry.

According to the School Nutrition Association, almost half of school meal programs reported declines in revenue in the 2012-13 school year, and 90 percent said food costs were up.

Instead of reconsidering what are evidently expensive and ineffective rules, the Obama administration has doubled down. Here’s how White House spokesman Jay Carney put it:

The First Lady has from day one made the health of our children a top priority, and that means keeping the pressure on to ensure that school nutrition standards already implemented by 90 percent of our schools stay intact. The First Lady and this administration believe that every decision we make should be guided by sound science and hard evidence, not politics or special interests, particularly when it comes to the health of our children

This passionate defense of one of Mrs. Obama’s signature issues is troubling, however, because of Carney’s insistence that in effect the consequences of the administration’s meddling don’t matter. “The First Lady and this administration believe that every decision we make should be guided by sound science and hard evidence…..particularly when it comes to the health of our children.”

Whose children is he speaking of? Does the Obama administration believe that American children belong to the state more than to their parents? And who asked them to make these “decisions” in the first place?

It seems from the administration’s stubborn resistance to any reform and the claim that its decisions are sacrosanct because of their supposed basis in science, that somehow getting elected president meant that Mr. and Mrs. Obama were put in charge of feeding every American kid. Yet, I don’t see where the Constitution states that our elected representatives get to decide what we eat.

School lunches aren’t supposed to supplant parental authority. Certainly it isn’t the role of anyone in Washington to dictate to parents or the local school what children can and can’t eat. Mrs. Obama’s heart may be in the right place but the time has come for her and the rest of the central planners at the federal level to leave the rest of us alone. 

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