Chicago’s Little Village Academy public school has banned bringing homemade lunches to school, and unless students have a medical excuse, they must eat the food served in the cafeteria. The school’s principal , Elsa Carmona, said her intention is to protect students from their own unhealthful food choices.
“Nutrition wise, it is better for the children to eat at the school,” Carmona said. “It’s about the nutrition and the excellent quality food that they are able to serve (in the lunchroom). It’s milk versus a Coke. But with allergies and any medical issue, of course, we would make an exception.”
Yahoo news writer Liz Goodwin notes Alabama parents protested a school’s rule that barred students from bringing any drinks from home; East Syracuse, New York schools have outlawed cupcakes and other desserts, and schools around the country have banned chocolate milk and soda vending machines.
The Chicago public school system has experienced a decline in meal participation among students, many of whom say the food tastes bad. “Some of the kids don’t like the food they give at our school for lunch or breakfast,” said Little Village parent Erica Martinez. “So it would be a good idea if they could bring their lunch so they could at least eat something.”
Big Brother/Nanny State
As the Tribune points out, discussions over school lunches have spawned a much larger national debate about the role government should play in individual food choices.
“This is such a fundamental infringement on parental responsibility,” said J. Justin Wilson, a senior researcher at the Washington-based Center for Consumer Freedom.
“Would the school balk if the parent wanted to prepare a healthier meal?” Wilson said. “This is the perfect illustration of how the government’s one-size-fits-all mandate on nutrition fails time and time again. Some parents may want to pack a gluten-free meal for a child, and others may have no problem with a child enjoying soda.”
Money Grab for Schools and Food Providers
The Tribune notes that since the federal government pays school districts for each free or reduced-price lunch, with caterers receiving a set fee from the district per lunch, schools that ban homemade lunches put “more money in the pockets of the district’s food provider”.
“We don’t spend anywhere close to that on my son’s daily intake of a sandwich (lovingly cut into the shape of a Star Wars ship), Goldfish crackers and milk,” education policy professor Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach wrote in an email. “Not only would mandatory school lunches worsen the dietary quality of most kids’ lunches at Nettelhorst, but it would also cost more out of pocket to most parents! There is no chance the parents would stand for that.”
Limits on Range Of Debate
“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum – even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.”
– Noam Chomsky
In addition to easy money grabs and government control over our childrens’ food choices, a limit has stealthily been put on the range of debate.
While school officials discuss the evils of homemade lunches and chocolate milk, no one is discussing the dangers of consuming GM food, cloned beef (from dead cows) and milk, high fructose corn syrup, food coloring and dyes, or the USDA’s negligence and lax oversight, which in the past led to supplying schools with thousands of tons of meat from old chickens — normally sold to pet food producers — and contaminated peanut butter, beef, and canned vegetables weeks after recalls were announced.
All this underscores what Chomsky referred to as strictly limiting the spectrum of acceptable opinion, and putting limits on the range of the debate.
Notice what the limits are — there’s is a lively debate about homemade lunches verses school lunches, low-fat verses regular chocolate milk, but no discussion at all about taboo subjects like GM food, cloned beef and milk, and high fructose corn syrup.
Washington Post writer Kevin Sieff said Fairfax County officials announced that they would reintroduce the newer, low-fat version of chocolate milk in school cafeterias made from sugar cane or beets, instead of high-fructose corn syrup.
Sieff adds: “But most scientists and nutritionists, including those employed by local school districts, say that changing sweeteners makes little dietary difference if the total calorie content stays the same.”
That claim is patently false. While the calories may remain the same, high fructose corn syrup or HFCS is a corn-based, liquid form of sugar that has an entirely different effect on the human body.
By itself, fructose requires a different metabolic pathway in order to be metabolized because it skips the regular metabolism of carbohydrates or glycolysis. “As a result, the fructose becomes a source of ‘acetyl CoA’ in its unregulated form which, when combined with unstimulated leptin lavels, can lead to substantial fat deposits.”
The consumption of HFCS is linked to an increase in weight gain (more than with table sugar), insulin resistance, type II diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Additionally, in 2009, researchers at Georgia State University determined diets high in fructose (found in most processed foods and beverages) impaired the spatial memory of adult rats.
“Princeton researchers discovered that rats which had access to high fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to basic table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same.”
Until the health effects and dangers of GM food, cloned food (none of which is labeled), high fructose corn syrup, and other food additives that permeate our entire food supply are allowed to enter the main stream of public debate, all discussions about food choices and the nutritional safety of our children are essentially a sham.
Do you think it is ok for schools to impose these bans?