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Parents decry 'food police' in NC schools

Posted February 28, 2012
Updated February 29, 2012

— Members of a state panel tasked with setting rules for preschool programs in North Carolina heard an angry outcry from parents Tuesday over lunch guidelines.

The hearing of the state Child Care Commission comes two weeks after North Carolina made national headlines over the issue. A Hoke County teacher replaced some preschoolers' homemade lunches with a school lunch after deeming that the children's lunches didn't meet set nutritional guidelines.

School officials later acknowledged the teacher made a mistake, saying she was only supposed to provide the missing item – a carton of milk in this case – and not swap out the entire lunch.

"We do not need food police," Susan Robbins of Wendell told the state commission Tuesday. "When every employee of the government – state level and every level of government – is not obese, then they can examine children's lunches and determine whether or not they are healthy."

Some advocates said, however, that day care and pre-kindergarten programs need rules to ensure children in the programs are eating right.

"I've seen Cheetos and Coke being provided to young children, and I've seen soda and juice being provided in bottles to infants," said Richard Rairigh, director of programs and early child development at Be Active North Carolina, which promotes healthy lifestyles.

Commission Chairwoman Claire Tate said the rules, which require the preschool programs to provide food free of charge to children whose lunches don't meet guidelines, also help families who might not be able to afford proper meals for their children.

School lunch generic Advocates say preschool lunch rules needed

"We always attempt for the parent's preference, their religious guidelines, their ethnic preferences, cultural, certainly medical," Tate said. "There is always allowance for that."

Critics maintained that the rules don't value parental opinions, and they demanded that the rights of parents and children by clearly written in the rules.

"Are we as North Carolinians and Americans now to live under the assertion that a handful of people who, by bureaucratic fiat, can strip us of our rights and personal preference as parents as to what we will and will not give our children?" asked Dr. Scott Sweeney, a Charlotte family practice physician. "I say no. Nationally, people are saying no."

The 17-member commission didn't vote Tuesday on any changes to the state guidelines. Members said they would continue to accept public input until April 2, and they could vote in May on any updates.

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  • jaymijunk Mar 1, 7:41 p.m.

    Sure, let's get the government out of the lunchboxes.

    Why don't we start with the EBT program? Get that government out of people's groceries alltogether!

    And if we don't care about their health and well-being, we can do away with the Medicaid program after that. Don't want that government in my health care, oh no!

    And while we're at it- since we they no business "trying to raise" these children, why are we footing the bill for them to be in the program, when they can go to a daycare and pay for that until they are 5 and can start school? Oh, yeah- there is a subsidy for that, too. Well, the government shouldn't have any say so in how the children are cared for and fed, so let's get them out of that, too.

    (A daycare has the same meal guidelines, by the way. As does any child-care setting with children birth-age 5)

    Yes, let's get that meddling government out of our households and let us feed, clothe, educate, and raise our children ourselves!!!

  • sunneyone2 Mar 1, 10:45 a.m.

    I highly doubt there are stricter rules governing the treatment of pets.....

    But, I think if the school notices a pattern of inappropriate meals, the FIRST step is to talk with the parent. It's not to take a provided meal away and give a child something of lesser health benefit. I think that more than anything is what has people up in arms. The meal in question was a turkey and cheese sandwich, a juice box, a banana and chips. I agree that children need healthy meals, but to take a reasonable meal away from a child and give her chicken nuggets? That's just wrong.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Mar 1, 9:50 a.m.

    @timexliving, does the location of parental ignorance to their detriment of their children really matter? Besides, how many children would a person see eating every day in a school or once a year at a fair?

    The fact is, the location of abuse does not matter. We know that parents feed their children complete and total junk, because they are either ignorant or lazy. Or both.

    The question remains, when should the government step in and protect a child? Does a parent have to beat a child? Could "protect from physical harm" include a parent who puts their infant on a Coca Cola and Cheetos diet? ...or allows them to be 200 pounds at age 10?

    We have stricter rules for how people treat their pets.

  • RedSkins Mar 1, 9:49 a.m.

    To Redskins post around 2:42p.m. today, stated gas was $1.78 when President Obama took office but when searched this, I came up with $3.27 as the average. One really needs to research the facts before posting a comment. But what does that have to do with a child's lunch?

    hop4

    I did not post this. You read it wrong. I was commenting on someone that did.

  • timexliving Feb 29, 6:30 p.m.

    "I've seen Cheetos and Coke being provided to young children, and I've seen soda and juice being provided in bottles to infants," said Richard Rairigh, director of programs and early child development at Be Active North Carolina, which promotes healthy lifestyles.

    Notice Richard doesn't say where he saw that? Was it at the State Fair, the Farmer's Market?

  • kmbloem Feb 29, 5:04 p.m.

    facts are stubborn things...

    http://news.consumerreports.org/cars/2009/01/average-gas-pricesjanuary-26-2009.html

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Feb 29, 5:02 p.m.

    @batcave, for the sake of argument, let's say that only liberals created all these social intrusions several decades (century?) ago. The fact remains that, by and large, we evolved and learned from our mistakes and no longer support these Puritanical intrusions.

    Meanwhile, by and large, Conservatives still support these Govermental intrusions into our incredibly personal lives in the ways that I mention. They even make them part of their party platform...restricting who we can love & marry, what we can do with our own bodies, when we can end our own lives, which sex acts are "legal" even in our own bedrooms, etc.

  • hop4 Feb 29, 4:12 p.m.

    To Redskins post around 2:42p.m. today, stated gas was $1.78 when President Obama took office but when searched this, I came up with $3.27 as the average. One really needs to research the facts before posting a comment. But what does that have to do with a child's lunch?

  • mike2 Feb 29, 3:42 p.m.

    "You know what they say. If you follow an obese child home an obese parent will open the door. Keep up the good work you conservatives!!!!"

    RedSkins WHAT? This does not make any sense at all. OMG...I taught school for 34 years and I could name you hundreds of kids who were obese and their parents were thin. What does political affilation have to do with this. Gosh, I assume now, from your statement, that anyone I see from now on who is obese is a Conservative? If so, that will make it real easy to determine what political affiliation a person is. Thank you for teaching me about illogical thinking. I guess since I am in my 60's and I am diabetic that I need to blame my Mom and Dad for it due to the country ham, good ole eggs and grits they fed me. Or should I blame them because my dad and grandmother were diabetic. By the way, my dad was a conservative.

  • hardycitrus Feb 29, 3:35 p.m.

    >>....The book '1984' should be required reading for everyone.

    Everyone here seems to be enjoying the daily "Two Minute Hate."

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