Why is the USDA nannying our elderly?

Consider the mandate of the United States Department of Agriculture: agriculture policy, helping farmers and ranchers, the national school lunch program, food stamps and now circumventing parents.

Indeed, a March 31USDA blog post tutors grandparents helping their grandchildren develop healthy eating habits. USDA nutritionist Trish Britten writes:

As a proud grandmother, I can attest that grandkids learn by example…so be a healthy role model by taking care of yourself and they will learn to value healthy habits.  Use ChooseMyPlate.gov to guide your food choices and better understand the nutrition needs of young children in your life.  Take your grandchildren shopping at a farmer’s market and the grocery store.  Talk about the choices you are making—choosing the juicier oranges or the fresher vegetables.  Help them learn cooking skills, which will benefit them throughout their lives. Encourage them to be active throughout the day.

If Ms. Britten stopped there, it might have been OK, but this is a government bureaucrat so why stop at one suggested government service (ChooseMyPlate.gov) where there are many more rules to promote?

The article continues:

Avoid making different dishes to please young, fussy eaters.  Offer snack foods that help meet their daily food group needs such as applesauce, baby carrots, string cheese, or 100% whole grain crackers.  Reward them with your attention.  Hugs are much better than sweet treats.

Spend time walking in the neighborhood, planting a vegetable garden, or shooting a few hoops.  Dance, run, and play hopscotch or soccer with them when they’re full of energy—it’s fun and healthy for both of you!

Show your grandchild games, activity sheets and other fun ways to learn about good nutrition at MyPlate Kids’ Place.  For a bedtime story, read The Two Bite Club.

“The Two Bite Club” is a USDA book about how to try all the foods from MyPlate by tasting two bites of each. The USDA helpfully explains that the book is in English and Spanish and is meant to teach young children the government guidelines for a healthy diet. Of course, that diet doesn’t include candy, so grandparents are supposed to give hugs instead.

The problem with all this government concern and caring is that nowhere is it explained why this is the business of the United Stated government in the first place nor is it clear why parents have been removed from the equation?

It is true that the percent of grandparents who serve as caregivers to their grandchildren has risen since the recession in 2007, but so far the peak is 4 percent of American kids. Why is the USDA spending money focused on such exceptional circumstances?

In reality, the answer is the problem. The Department of Agriculture has no business publishing books or proselytizing for its version of nutritious eating, period. But the USDA, like every other cabinet department has gotten so big and so brazen that it has taken on the role of nanny-knows-best and this is but one example of that effort. It wastes taxpayer money, while failing to produce useful results. And by removing parents from the equation, the USDA is undermining the bedrock value of families, not government, as primary caregiver.

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