USDA Demands Holiday Snacks (and Parents) Be Removed From Schools

Starting next year, bringing a dozen homemade cupcakes to your child’s classroom to celebrate his or her birthday will be tantamount to lighting up a cigarette on the blacktop. Candy canes and gingerbread men people will be verboten during the school’s Christmas party winter celebration. And this Spring, don’t expect any candy in the classroom; the Easter fuzzy bunny is strictly prohibited from entering school grounds. As for next year’s Halloween fall festivities: kids should brace for water and carrots (hey, they’re orange!). What fun!

This is all good news to writer Bettina Elias Siegel, who recently covered this important school-based cookie crisis for a story in the New York Times. Siegel writes (my translation from alarmist gibberish to reasonable person is provided in brackets):

The season of junk-food-laden [fun and celebratory] classroom holiday parties is upon us. And while some [normal and reasonable] parents see all the cakes, candy and salty snacks as a harmless indulgence during a festive season, others [certain joyless, Dickensian, wet blankets] object to any [ANY!] unhealthy food in the classroom.

Siegel goes on to provide reassurance by optimistically and without a hint of irony explaining, “…the federal government is stepping in to help address the issue of classroom food.” Siegel then reports that starting in 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will require all school districts that participate in school feeding programs (so, you know, all of them) to create “nutritional standard” for all foods and beverages served in schools, including items brought to the school by parents and any food-based prizes given out by teachers.

I don’t expect Siegel or anyone who writes for the Times to understand the outright absurdity and hilarity that the feds are “here to help” with what’s being characterized as a holiday food crisis. But, no doubt millions of parents do appreciate how preposterous it is for a government agency (at any level) to spend one millisecond on this issues, considering the, oh, billion or so more important things on which they could be focused. Does any sensible person think this “holiday cookies disaster” requires federal (or state or local) intervention?

Sadly, the answer is a resounding yes for those in the Obama administration. In fact, the feds have been utterly obsessed with school-based food since President Obama took office. First, it was the school lunch “reforms,” which passed Congress in 2010 and which led to a massive, school-based food waste problem (ignored by liberals and environmentalists) as well as a legion of hungry and generally angry and annoyed kids (ignored by the media) who were forced to eat this “healthier” food. Then there was the banning of anything resembling a snack in school vending machines. And then, the feds took away the higher-fat and higher calorie “a la carte” items like mozzarella sticks and nachos sold in school cafeterias and replaced them with fruit cups, baked chips, and yogurt.

Of course, what didn’t happen was any sort of interaction with parents. At no point was there any discussion with or encouragement for parents to take a bigger role in their kids’ nutritional development. Parents weren’t encouraged to pack lunches, nor were they reminded that school-based food programs are for kids that live at or under the poverty line (so, in other words, some suggestion that maybe richer and middle class parents should stop using the school food program would have been nice). Parents also weren’t informed of the significant body of scientific evidence that shows parents who are more involved in their children’s eating habits and who practice certain parenting strategies (putting kids to bed earlier, limiting screen time, having family dinners) had children that were better able to maintain healthy weights. That’s useful information parents want to hear yet that information was never provided.

That pattern is being repeated here. Instead, of encouraging parents to voice their concerns and try to change school holiday celebrations from food-based to game- or activity-based, the solution is always more government. It’s as if the folks at the USDA (and the New York Times) have no concept of how schools and parents interact. As parents know, most teachers and schools respond to parent concerns. Thus, encouraging such communication between parents and teachers would be a far simpler way to deal with the so-called “season of junk-food” than insisting schools create rigid nutritional standards.

Sadly, schools will be required to develop these new standards, which will only complicate matters and take parents out of the picture. Consider that instead of going through the process of developing all new nutrition standards, many schools will simply opt for USDA’s already approved “Smart Snack Rules.” These rules actually prohibit parents from bringing in homemade food items, ostensibly to reduce the risk of allergens (because, again, the government doesn’t trust kids, parents, and teachers to be able to communicate about such risks). Never mind that this means that the very people who crow about the scourge of processed foods (including the New York Time’s own food writer Mark Bittman) are now pushing rules that only allow processed food in the classroom.

If we really want kids to be healthy, we need to detangle food from schools and encourage parents to be more involved in what their kids consume. And if your school is really have a holiday cookie crisis, I know a few kids who’d be happy to help out. Address provided on request.

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  • Unmutual One

    Something else for Trump to change. Enough with these totalitarian “regulators.”

  • InklingBooks

    I’m reminded of a distinction that exists between tetotaling (no alcohol) families and moderate, special-occasion drinkers. It’s the former that often has children who, not having been taught moderate drinking, become binge drinkers and alcoholics.

    Birthday and holiday goodies are much like that. Having cake and cookies on special occasions (or after finishing a healthy meal) teaches children self-control and moderation. Exclusionary rules, like these federal agencies want to promote, teaches nothing and often leads to excess.

  • Deb

    I’d be happy to let schools decide this locally, but in too many cases they defer to the parents who insist on bringing dozen after dozen after dozen cupcakes in for birthdays (not to mention school-sponsored ice cream & pizza parties). have you tried working around kids with numerous food allergies in your classroom while juggling all the requests for this stuff to be brought to school?

    If it bothers the schools, then maybe the schools could take some initiative already.

    • SDN

      If your snowflake is so sensitive that he can’t even be in the same room, he should be in a moon suit…. or home schooled.

      • davefla

        If your snowflake can’t go to school on his/her birthday without handing out treats, maybe that one kid who sneezes or breaks out in hives isn’t the problem… Maybe it’s you.

        • SDN

          Well, my kid and 50 friends who don’t break out in hives.

  • Raptor Jesus

    Disband the department of education. The Federal government has NO PLACE in education, leave it ALL TO THE STATES.

    • T Gunther

      No. Leave most of it to local control, regulated and supported by the states. (I know that’s what you meant.)

  • DefeatTheLeft

    Just what we all need to hear “we are from the government and we are here to help!” Trump’s presidency could not start soon enough.

  • BGMorgan

    Whatever did we do prior to these people coming along to enlighten us? (Sarcasm off). Honestly, these clowns can’t get the heck out of the Government fast enough.

  • ZZMike

    Another step in the Long March to remove parents’ authority over their children.

  • Two If By Sea

    Americans need to remove these left wing parasites from our society forever; we should use guillotines, hot lead and cold steel.

  • Quote from the movie “Dr. Strangelove”
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0057012/quotes

    [modified] General Jack D. Ripper: I can no longer sit back and allow uninformed parents with uncontrolled personal freedom to sap and impurify any of our children’s precious bodily fluids.

  • Dusty Thompson

    Socialism is the message, Marxism is the strategy and Fascism is the goal…

    Democrats lost America’s first Civil War because they enslaved Black people. Democrats are going to lose America’s second Civil War because they attempted to enslave everyone else…

    When peaceful recourse is denied, violent redress becomes justified, it becomes manifold.

  • Dave M.

    Phone and a pen Mr. Trump, phone and a pen.

    • BillPrep

      you were good with obama doing it that way? you’ll be good with the next dem elected doing the same thing? if not, its idiotic to suggest this practice continuing, no?

      • rayward

        Use the phone and pen to undo the nonsense imposed by the phone and pen of Obama and his clueless drones in the USDA, and other overreaching agencies.

        • BillPrep

          so then, ‘yes’, as long as its ‘your’ guy/gal doing the signing and calling…

          • Dinobot

            You don’t get it, do you. Unless you give the Democrats a severe taste of their own medicine that will forced them to choke on it and hate it so much that they won’t use it again for fear that the pen and phone will be used against them, they won’t stop using it. The Democrats rely on people like you to shield them from their own shortsighted stupidity by preventing the other side from using the same political weapons to give the Democrats a lesson to remember.
            So yes, I want Trump to use the same weapons the Left use against them. If you don’t like it, remember what Obama said, nearly eight years ago. ” Election have consequences and at the end of the day, I won.”. Trump won and the Left now fears the consequences .

      • Nat Rev

        Reduce the reach of the Department of Education. Legislate charter schools and give parents a choice where their kids go. Cut the legs out from under the NEA and their RICO scheme for funding Democrats. Return to local control for schools.

        • BillPrep

          agreed, but do it right. we all should be sick of this ‘rule by decree’ crap (in my opinion, your mileage may vary) and, at the very least, not calling for more of it.

          • Nat Rev

            I have no issues with DT eliminating everything with his pen that Obama implemented with his pen. I’m even good at going beyond and following up with legislation so that the next Democrat can’t redo it with a pen.

      • chicagorefugee

        Sorry but retaliation is the only way to enforce the rules of War.

        Appeasement of the “we’d never shrink to your level” variety is the strategy of perpetual losers.

  • brightlight

    If they could, the libs would want to make all schools boarding schools so they would have access to the kids 24/7. Must keep them away from the parent to prevent unpure thoughts.

  • armst

    I now have several volunteers (unwittingly) to be the first terminated from their government jobs.

  • gridlock2

    If they could figure out a way to have Mommy’s Cupcakes served by a unionized SEIU employee, preferably with a four-hour minimum overtime block, they would have no problem with the sugar.

  • Nat Rev

    Well, it does take a village after all…

  • stevewfromford

    If one tries to do everything they generally accomplish nothing. The Obama government is living proof of this adage.

  • Rick Caird

    Since this is supposed to happen in 2017, I doubt any such rules will see the light of day. But, if the USDA has enough time for this, I suggest they are over staffed and over budgeted. Let’s try a 25% cut in both areas and see if they still have too much free time.

  • Vizzini

    Every year I become more and more glad that I have homeschooled all my children.