This photo, accompanied by a link to a blog by an obesity doctor, has been making the Facebook rounds lately...
The above photo is of a note a Canadian mother got when her two kids went to school with a lunch that didn't fit the school's guidelines. Though this happened in Canada, it's been happening all across the United States, too. School systems are starting to be very demanding about what kids can and can't have for lunch. Some school systems go as far as requiring kids to purchase lunch at school, rather than bring their own.
I realize I don't have kids and things have changed a lot since my day. When I was growing up, there weren't as many fat kids. I can't remember a single classmate having food allergies, while they seem to be very common today. We also had physical education and recess for younger kids. So I know times have changed and not necessarily for the better. However, it does seem to me that dictating what kids eat for lunch and forcing "supplements" on them is a ridiculous idea.
The above example is especially ridiculous. Ritz crackers? Mom sent her kids with homemade food: roast beef, milk, potatoes, carrots, and an orange. And all that was missing was a "grain", which the school provided in the form of… Ritz crackers. Not whole wheat bread. Not even whole wheat crackers. Fucking Ritz crackers! Which they then proceeded to charge the parents ten Canadian dollars for!
The hefty fine is no doubt supposed to discourage parents from "needing" supplements when they forget to pack their kids' lunches properly, as the school officials deem necessary. I remember lunch as one of the most fun times of the day. How grim and potentially embarrassing it must be to have some teacher or aide policing what's in your lunch bag.
I'm all for kids eating well. I think parents should try to send their kids to school with good food. I wish that if school officials were going to have a policy that spells out what kids should eat for lunch, they would practice what they preach. In one of the articles I linked above, a preschool child's lunch was deemed inadequate and the school forced her to trade in her mother's home packed lunch for chicken nuggets!
In the other article I linked, kids in Chicago were being forced to buy lunch. They were later observed to be throwing away most of the food uneaten. That means they were probably hungry in the afternoon. In all honesty, when I was in school, I could not stomach school food. Just the smell of it nauseated me. By the time I was in high school, I quit eating lunch altogether… but that was because at the time, I was flirting with eating disorders and probably looking for attention, too. I regret those days now. They led to years of body image problems and a messed up metabolism.
Anyway, it's probably good that I am forgoing motherhood.
Moving on, I read yesterday about a creepy study being done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In Fort Worth, Texas, drivers are being forcibly pulled over and asked to provide blood, saliva, and/or Breathalyzer data for a study. This study is a federal project, which is going on in 30 cities across the country over three years. The goal is to find out how many people are driving drunk or on drugs. The claim is that the study is voluntary and anonymous, but the lady who was pulled over said that it didn't seem voluntary at all, even though people were given $10 for cheek swab samples and $50 for blood. Supposedly, the contractors doing the study have passive alcohol sensors that can tell if a driver has been drinking, so the Breathalyzer test is unpaid.
I understand the importance of surveys and research. I also understand that informing people about this and not "forcing" them to stop will result in anyone drunk or on drugs to pass on by. But there's something wrong with forcing people to participate in a "voluntary study" through intimidation. Reading stuff like this really disturbs me.