It seems there is a never-ending flow of overzealous school nutrition guidelines pouring from the federal spigot during the Obama reign. The latest 160-page government nannies’ dream includes a number of restrictions on what snacks may be available to kids across the nation.
Certainly, I don’t endorse an unbalanced consumption of fatty, sugar-laden foods for individuals of any age – especially students. Quite the contrary, I believe that eating habits take root in the formative years and, if unchecked, can result in weight and health problems down the line.
I do, however, think that this and almost all other issues are much more efficiently handled at the local level. The federal government goes overboard on virtually anything it does, and the guidelines set forth in the most recent U.S. Department of Agriculture proposal is no exception.
With school breakfast and lunch already firmly under the thumb of government regulation, the feds naturally went on to restrict any other food options. The USDA guidelines refer to snacks outside of lunchroom meals as “competitive” foods and set multiple standards for schools to meet.
For instance, the proposal sets limits for caloric content as well as sodium, sugar, fat, and nutrients. There are certain categories of food all snacks must fall within, and the few exceptions to these restrictions enact even more regulation.
To qualify as an acceptable snack other than a fruit, vegetable, dairy, protein, or grain product, it must contain more than ¼ cup of fruits or vegetables or provide a significant percentage of nutrients.
Not only is content highly regulated; the proposal sets forth a variety of serving size limits broken down among age groups. No student will have access to carbonated drinks until high school, at which point only those with five calories or less per serving will be allowed.
The federal government, in conjunction with teachers unions, is collecting more power over the next generation at a faster pace than ever before. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the trend has resulted in a marked decrease in student performance.
As students learn less and less in vital subjects and continually score lower than many other industrialized nations in aptitude tests, this administration chooses to divert even more attention away from the classroom and toward regulation.
If local school districts had control over their own community’s choice, there is no question in my mind that students would not only perform at a higher level, but concerned parents would hold administrators responsible for providing well-balanced, nutritious meals – even if that included the occasional bag of chips.