North Carolina nutrition Nazis policing pre-schooler’s lunch boxes

This is too “WTF” to explain, so just read on:

The mother, who doesn’t wish to be identified at this time, says she made her daughter a lunch that contained a turkey and cheese sandwich, a banana, apple juice and potato chips. A state inspector assessing the pre-K program at the school said the girl also needed a vegetable, so the inspector ordered a full school lunch tray for her. While the four-year-old was still allowed to eat her home lunch, the girl was forced to take a helping of chicken nuggets, milk, a fruit and a vegetable to supplement her sack lunch.

The mother says the girl was so intimidated by the inspection process that she was too scared to eat all of her homemade lunch. The girl ate only the chicken nuggets provided to her by the school, so she still didn’t eat a vegetable.

“… I can’t put vegetables in her lunchbox. I’m not a millionaire and I’m not going to put something in there that my daughter doesn’t eat and I’ve done gone round and round with the teacher about that and I’ve told her that. I put fruit in there every day because she is a fruit eater. Vegetables, let me take care of my business at home and at night and that’s when I see she’s eating vegetables. I either have to smash it or tell her if you don’t eat your vegetables you’re going to go to bed.”

The mother added, “It’s just a headache to keep arguing and fighting. I’ve even wrote a note to her teachers and said do not give my daughter anything else unless it comes out of her lunchbox and they are still going against me and putting a milk in front of her every day.

The government inspector was from the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale-Revised program at the FPG Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The program gives schools a grade based on standards that include USDA meal guidelines enforced by the N.C. Division of Early Childhood Development.

The nutrition standards for pre-K lunch require milk, two servings of fruit or vegetable, bread or grains and a meat or meat alternative. The school didn’t receive a high grade from the January assessment because the home-made lunches didn’t meet those  guidelines. The mother points out the only thing on that list her daughter’s home lunch didn’t have was milk, so she doesn’t understand why the girl was given a complete school meal as a supplement.

This is wrong on so many levels I don’t even know where to begin.  Probably the most obvious place is to point out the panic and irrational stupidity that ensued when “inspectors” showed up.  Apparently any amount of idiocy is tolerable if such idiocy prevents write-ups by the inspector.  Because write-ups might mean more visits from other inspectors or, horror of horrors, a loss of funding.

When children – 4 year olds! – are harassed because school officials are scared of state inspectors, the schools have ceased to be servants of the public and have begun serving the government.  They have also demonstrated that their administrators value saving their own asses and worshiping the system above serving the best interest of the students.

One more thing.  As the parent of a child with Asperger’s Syndrome, which manifests itself prominently in eating habits and food choices, I can tell you that this type of meddling with kids’ home-made lunches is at least unnecessary and at most disastrous.  All parents pack a school lunch with foods they know their children will eat.  Most of us can’t afford to buy foods that will be thrown away.  And with shrinking lunch periods (my kids have as few as 20 minutes on some days) parents also know that their kids need foods that they can eat quickly.

Most of us understand that there are a lot of low income households out there that do not provide balanced nutrition for their children.  But interfering with everyone’s lunch in order to provide nutritional “intervention” for those kids is a very stupid way to handle that problem.

What did the Attorney General Know and when did he Know it?
Nancy DisGrace