Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Food Fight

Remember food fights in the school cafeteria? It was harmless enough, but always created a mess. Janitors were always on hand to clean up following these childish displays.

But when the government gets involved in food fights, who cleans up the mess?

In North Carolina, a West Hoke Elementary preschooler (Yup – 4 years old) had her lunch taken away by a visiting state agent who arbitrarily determined that the lunch she brought from home did not meet the U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines regarding proper nutritional value. I wish I could say that I’m shocked by this outrageous overreach of governmental authority, but I am not. This is one of any number of such incidents that are taking place all across the nation.

The mother of this little girl provided her daughter with what seems to be a perfectly reasonable lunch. It consisted of a turkey and cheese sandwich on wheat bread, a small bag of potato chips (no doubt the culprit!), a banana, and a container of apple juice. The mother, who preferred to remain anonymous, was incensed that the lunch she made for her daughter was taken away. On top of that, the little girl was forced to eat the school lunch. And just what did this school lunch consist of? Chicken nuggets! That’s right. I’ve heard that chicken nuggets are made of some interesting stuff – most of which you’d rather not know about. On top of that, they are deep fried. Now that’s a real good alternative to a turkey and cheese sandwich on wheat bread! (For a companion article, “Do you know what you’re eating?” Go to:

Now are you ready for this? The child was told to take her mommy-prepared lunch home which now included a note informing the mother that she is being charged $1.25 for the school lunch. The school policy states, “When home-packed lunches do not include all of the required items, child care providers must supplement them with the missing ones.” So now we have food police!

I remember the lunches my mother used to make for me. They were great! There was always a sandwich, frequently PB&J on white bread, or tuna fish on white bread (Wonder Bread – Helps build strong bodies 12 ways!), an apple, a pint of milk, celery or carrot sticks, and my favorite – Marshmallow Fluff on Graham Crackers! Yum! Man, the food police of today would be apoplectic over that!

Now follow me here. This child was no doubt frightened when this state agent took from her the lunch her mother made. Then she was told she had to eat the school lunch, of which she ate only three of the chicken nuggets. What must her little mind be thinking? What’s wrong with the lunch my mom made?

The subtlety here is the doubt that is planted in the child’s mind about her mother. When the state (or whatever authorities) begin to dictate what we can and can’t do on so basic a level as food consumption, where will this end?

I have no issue with the schools attempting to provide healthier lunches for the kids who choose to buy school lunches. Making healthy lunches tasty and appealing to kids who typically are not interested in eating fruits and vegetables is a daunting task. But if the family opts to provide the child with a lunch prepared at home then that’s their choice. It is not the place of the school or government to determine what is acceptable.

We are gradually becoming a “Nanny State.” Our government at all levels is intruding into all areas of our lives. It is none of their business what a person chooses to eat, regardless of how well intentioned they may be.

The United States is a republic. Some will quickly counter that we are a democracy. This is not true. A democracy operates by majority rule. We use democratic principles but we are not a democracy. A republic, on the other hand, is based upon the populace electing leaders who are then empowered to establish laws in governing the nation. Think back to the days when you recited the Pledge of Allegiance in school. “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands…”

Laws are always intended to serve the greater good. However, when lawmakers fail to curtail their own power to make and enact laws, we find ourselves burdened with more and more laws which become burdensome, ridiculous, and eventually all-controlling.

Under such conditions people grow distrustful of their neighbors. We become fearful that someone might be breaking a law. So instead of sitting down and reasoning with each other, we contact the authorities. Laws are, by their very nature, unforgiving and punitive. So when those holding some level of authority choose to enforce laws that infringe on our freedoms, we all lose. Too much government, and too much government control.

Okay, I’m done. It’s noon and time for lunch. I’ll have my obligatory salad and glass of water. But I sure wish I had some of my mother’s Graham Crackers and Marshmallow Fluff!

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