Congress seems to have a lot on their plate -- literally. The House recently passed a bill that EXPANDS the school lunch program to one that serves dinner, available in all 50 States.
The Bill is a result of the Ms. Obama's efforts to end childhood obesity. Like all things with good intentions, this bill goes off the rails pretty quickly. One of the main targets of the Bill is to regulate school bake sales -- apparently the occasional brownie or slice of pizza is now viewed with the same critical, nanny-state view as transfats and high fructose corn syrup.
Public health groups pushed for the language on fundraisers, which encourages the secretary of Agriculture to allow them only if they are infrequent. The language is broad enough that a president's administration could even ban bake sales, but Secretary Tom Vilsack signaled in a letter to House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Calif., this week that he does not intend to do that. The USDA has a year to write rules that decide how frequent is infrequent.
Margo Wootan of the Center for Science in the Public Interest says the bill is aimed at curbing daily or weekly bake sales or pizza fundraisers that become a regular part of kids' lunchtime routines. She says selling junk food can easily be substituted with nonfood fundraisers.
"These fundraisers are happening all the time," Wootan said. "It's a pizza sale one day, doughnuts the next... It's endless. This is really about supporting parental choice. Most parents don't want their kids to use their lunch money to buy junk food. They expect they'll use their lunch money to buy a balanced school meal."
The bill spends $4.5Billion to ensure that kids are eating a healthy diet. The program is run by the Department of Agriculture, not the Department of Education-- no chance of bureaucratic turf wars or bungling incompetence here, right?
So now we have disadvantaged children eating school breakfast, lunch and dinner, with the resulting length of time spent at school getting even longer....meaning more 'late buses' and other school costs. Who will be the cafeteria monitors after the teacher's union mandated 'end of school hours' release of teachers at 4PM?
But most serious of all, if the kids are eating dinner at school, that completely isolates them from the family dinner table. Aren't we supposed to be encouraging parents to take an active role in their children's lives and talk to them about sex, drugs, rock and roll, bullying and life? And when will this happen if little Johnny and Suzy don't get back from school until 5:30 or 6:00 PM, already fed?
This is a clear over-reach by the federal government, trying to leap frog right into our kitchens and dining rooms, 'for the children...' It won't take long for the program to grow and grow to a point where it absorbs all students, so that scheduling can be simplified for the poor school administrators.
This is a classic example of out of control government, founded on 'good intentions.'