Big Mommy Michelle Obama will feed your kids

In ancient Rome, it was customary for candidates for public office to woo voters with free grain.  In fact, feeding Rome with plenty of free and subsidized grain became the central preoccupation of most Consuls and Emperors. Well fed Romans were docile Romans.

Jesus Christ handed out free fish, bread, and wine.  People worshiped that guy.

Herbert Hoover won the presidential election on the promise of “a chicken in every pot”.

Franklin D. Roosevelt gave Americans Food Stamps, and he ended up being president for twelve years.

Politicians and bureaucrats know that the way to the populace’s heart is through its stomach.

This week First Lady Michelle Obama made a number of statements in her official capacity as…, well I am not sure what official power she has beyond choosing the White House table settings. But anyway she is taking on child nutrition as her pet project and meddling in what kids eat.

She was announcing the signing of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.  The new law was passed unanimously in the Senate, and has support from both sides in the House. It has to do with kids being too fat and too hungry, which fat kids are wont to be.

The First Lady followed the lead of her POTUS husband in saying one thing, they using the big BUT to say what she really means.  Mrs. Obama starts out with lip service about nutrition being the ultimate responsibility of parents and blah blah BUT, “we as a nation have a responsibility to meet as well, we can’t just leave it up to the parents.” Big Mommy is stepping up to the table with Big Brother, and Paternal Government to take care of us.

The law includes:

  • an increase of 6cents Federal funding per student meal
  • Gives the USDA authority to set nutrition requirements for school meals, snacks, ala cart items, and vending machines.
  • Helps create school gardens
  • Add all children on Medicaid to free lunch availability
  • and raises the income qualification for subsidized lunches to 185% the poverty level.

The approved foods will no doubt be from favored lobbies like like corn, wheat, and soy.  Big Ag and their lobbying bucks in Washington are big supporters of school “nutrition programs”.  Michael Pollan talks about the matter in this NY Times review discussing Food Politics.  The resulting menus avoid the list of proscribed foods imposed by the Secretary of Agriculture, with schools left to fill in the blanks with filler grain calories.

“Military leaders … tell us that when more than one in four young people are unqualified for military service because of their weight,” the first lady says in the prepared remarks, “childhood obesity isn’t just a public health threat, it’s not just an economic threat, it’s a national security threat as well.”

Well, libertarians claim that the role of a just government is to protect its citizens, then the First Lady has that covered by making this an issue vital to National security. Frankly, overeating pizza and ice-cream sounds like an easier way to avoid compulsory military service than hiding in Canada!

Indeed the food proscriptions may lead to weight loss, IF that is all the kids have to eat.  I have gone to my daughter’s school to join her for lunch, and left hungrier than when I arrived.  I try to eat low carb and to eat healthful proteins and veggies. School lunches are not conducive to that diet, and will get worse under the new rules.  The school lunch protein is typically a soy enhanced chicken patty, served on a whole grain (yet still over processed) bread. The veg is iceberg lettuce with fat free ranch, with a mealy red apple and carrot sticks on the side, and a beverage of skim milk or apple juice.   Kids at Fat Camp get better meals! Starved gubment meal kids will find their calories from black market twinkies and smuggled Cheetos, or gorge on crap when they get home.

If you think that your kids are safe because they do not eat school meals, think again.  Many schools are banning sack lunch ingredients like gluten, sugar, fats, and nuts.  And to be extra safe they ban the cafeteria tradition of trading food.  What is left to bring in your lunchbox? Tofu?

It is tragic that lobbyist pull and government largess are hiding behind children.  The result will be yuckier food at higher prices, subsidized by our wallets, at the ultimate cost of limiting free-markets, choice, and parental responsibility.

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