Criminalizing Brown-Bag Lunches

Since most of my early school years were spent in foreign countries where there were no government-subsidized meals, taking my lunch to school was something my siblings and I did as a matter of course. Almost invariably, the contents consisted of a sandwich, some fruit, a thermos of milk or chocolate milk, and a small treat.

Now, thanks to Nanny-staters in Chicago, the venerable brown-bag lunch may become a thing of the past; the latest victim of a drive to place virtually every aspect of growing up, in the hands of government officials who claim a monopoly on knowing what’s best for children.

While certainly many parents are not particularly good parents, and often make mistakes in teaching children appropriate life lessons and good habits, to conclude from that truism that such decision-making is better in the hands of government employees, is an even worse decision.

Schools, of course, have long been a refuge for nanny-staters at all levels of government. Our current First Lady, Michelle Obama, is following in this tradition by leading a crusade against obesity; what she calls a “public health crisis.” Granted, there are too many fat people wandering our communities, businesses and schools; but does that justify government interference in people’s eating habits? Does that justify a school, such as Little Village Academy in Chicago, dictating that its students are prohibited from bringing their own, home-packed lunches to school?

Elsa Carmona, principal at Little Village Academy, has decided it is “better for the children to eat at the school.” Therefore, as any good, petty bureaucrat with a degree of power would do, she concludes it is necessary for her to “protect students from their own unhealthful food choices” and force them to eat only what she determines is best for them at the school cafeteria. (Incidentally, some of the food served in public school cafeterias that I’ve seen, is far from appealing; and of dubious healthfulness.)

A school board spokesperson, apparently of the same controlling mindset as Ms. Carmona, agrees; stating that Little Village Academy is merely “encouraging the healthier choices.” Such sophistry wrongly implies the students are given a choice in lunches and merely encouraged to go in the healthier direction. In fact, the kids have no choice. As the Chicago Tribune notes, the children either eat the lunches provided to them by the school, or they do not eat.

Perhaps the only good news in all this is that the students are learning at an early age they do not live in a free country any longer.

By Bob Barr – The Barr Code

77 comments Add your comment


April 29th, 2011
1:54 pm

It’s started with smoking it won’t stop until we are all monitored on everything.


April 29th, 2011
2:29 pm

“Here you go WOW…you can also do a google search but here’s from CBS new and Bloomberg Businessweek”

Neither ones say anything about dictators. Try again, Gump.

Guy Incognito

Tell Kookman I said hi! Oh wait, he might take that as a racist rant.


April 29th, 2011
2:37 pm

Outlawing brown bag lunches comes from a point of view that believes three things:

1. That government ought, as a matter of principle, to be involved in day to day decsions that affect any citizen’s potential welfare. Each bit of power that accrues to the government allows the government to accure more power later. You may approve of the decision before us but be really unhappy where it leads.
2. That goverment is competent to make good decisons for hundreds of millions of people who formerly made these decisons individually. There is a cost to allowing the government to make individual decisons experessed in higher taxes, less freedom and governmental error.
3. That the downside and unintended consequences of any particular government intervention are either knowable or worth the risk.

We should be outraged at one Chicago school wanting to regulate what children bring in their brown bags. We should be outraged at many of the choices that regulators want to impose on us and our children.


April 29th, 2011
3:07 pm

“Anon” asked the perfect question early on. Are they going to accommodate for all the students who have specialized diets ?

Kosher, vegetarian, diabetic, assorted food allergies…etc. ?

I still remember during my entire 12 years of public school all the lunches had one option for our drink…milk. You got milk and there was zero alternative to it.

Guess what, I’m lactose intolerant. I had to bring juice to school to drink. Juice with zero means of keeping it cool either, so by lunch it had been sitting a locker and was room temp.

They couldn’t even accommodate for one food allergy, yet they’re ready to take on countless ones and countless other dietary needs all at once ?

What a joke.


April 29th, 2011
5:16 pm

WOW…what would you call it? According to Webster’s dictionary, the definition of dictator is…

a : a person granted absolute emergency power; especially : one appointed by the senate of ancient Rome b : one holding complete autocratic control c : one ruling absolutely and often oppressively

Sounds like it fits with this Michigan law, doesn’t it?


April 29th, 2011
5:26 pm

Guess next Mr. Barr, you will write how not allowing kids to bring guns, knives and other weapons is a government “nanny-state” overreach. What about the school district banning alcohol on school grounds? Or teachers and school administrators breaking up fights between students…is that being a “nanny-state” as well?


April 29th, 2011
5:54 pm

“Sounds like it fits with this Michigan law, doesn’t it?”

Go recall the governor then. I don’t see any outrage on your part about the federal government mandating that people buy health insurance.

Hypocrite much, John?


April 29th, 2011
5:55 pm

“What about the school district banning alcohol on school grounds?”

What about it? Are you in favor of drunk teens, John?

“Or teachers and school administrators breaking up fights between students…is that being a “nanny-state” as well?”

La-Z-Boy has a new selection of couches for you to faint on, John.


April 29th, 2011
6:22 pm

“Go recall the governor then. I don’t see any outrage on your part about the federal government mandating that people buy health insurance.

Hypocrite much, John?”

Are you outraged about the government forcing us to buy car insurance. There’s is a big difference about the health insurance and banning the entire local government and placing it in one person’s hand. Would you be outraged is Obama is allowed to ban all states’ governments and appoint friends of his to run the states?


April 29th, 2011
6:26 pm

“What about it? Are you in favor of drunk teens, John? ”

I’m not the one complaining about a school policy. Talk about hypocrite…sounds like you believe schools can have some policies (that agree with) but not allow others (those the you disagree with).


April 29th, 2011
6:34 pm

WOW…let’s talk hypocrisy. You believe a private school is allowed to make policies regarding lunch, uniforms, ect since it’s owned and operated by a private entity. But when the school is owned and operated by a government entity, that government entity has no rights to make policies because that’s overreach.

That’s hypocrisy,


April 29th, 2011
7:37 pm

Question…if the public school outsourced the cafeteria services to a private company who wants to make some profit and it’s the policy of that private company to not allow students to bring brown-bag lunches since that eats into their profits, would we still be having this debate?


April 29th, 2011
11:51 pm

Enter your comments here


April 29th, 2011
11:53 pm

I have no problem with the first lady discussing healthy eating as long as she practices what she preaches…..which is absolutely in question at this point…..


April 30th, 2011
6:32 am

A personal crusade by the First Lady is not “the government”. Her actions have no force of law and can be safely ignored by all the fat slobs eating themselves to death.

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Michael H. Smith

April 30th, 2011
9:23 am

…public money is being diverted from public schools to private schools ?

No, the public funding of education in Georgia is being DIVERTED from the educational choice of the individual – as in the parents or guardians of school age children to whom this money rightfully belongs.

Hopefully public funding of school choice will belong to all of Georgia’s school age children K-12. Public schools have no right to an education monopoly and we the voters of Georgia should amend our State’s Constitution to end the present government public school system education monopoly in Georgia.

Let the money follow the student.


April 30th, 2011
10:31 am

Barrs just another conservative who long for the mythical “good ole days”….he never called out the other first ladies for their endeavors…just the black one….

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Covers Dixie like the Dew

April 30th, 2011
1:57 pm

Hey Bob,
……… …… that Fulton County Tax Commissioner
is a real honest guy taking good care of tax paying citizens.

Did you see the Fulton County Tax Commisioner’s astronomical income for last year.

Please put the pressure on this fiasco.


May 1st, 2011
1:42 pm

“No, the public funding of education in Georgia is being DIVERTED from the educational choice of the individual – as in the parents or guardians of school age children to whom this money rightfully belongs. ”

Michael H. Smith , what don’t you get about the transfer of money. When money transfers from one hand to another, it is no longer the property of the people whom the money transferred from. We pay for government services via taxes. In return, we have a voice in shaping government through our votes. But it seems you would rather take tax money and give it to private corporations who can use the money as they seem fit and we no longer have a voice in how it’s being spent.

Jenny McDermott

May 1st, 2011
2:58 pm

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May 1st, 2011
6:41 pm

@WOW: here you go:
Bob Barr- I agree that prohibiting bag lunches is wrong on SO many levels…but your arguments are insulting and embarrassing.and quite poorly thought through. And you shot your argument in the foot with the probably enjoyable but cheap, jab at the First Lady. Clearly you don’t give a damn about the health of the kids in America, but we have a criticlal health issue now and ahead. How short-sighted to care so little about the future of America and its citizens, some of whom are your progeny! Children cannot make wise food choices when provided with poor food to choose from. WE..and that does include YOU…have raised a society of fat, sick kids. WE are killing our own kids with food and they are already paying for our mistakes. Most of these kids are and will be unfit to serve in our military and when we need them will be useless. These kids have diabetes in their teens and high cholesterol as young as 6 years of age….stroles and heart attacks are occurring at much younger ages. The kids have no stamina, no energy, and can barely fit 2 kids to a seat on a bus. YOU, Dear Mr. Barr, are one of this generation who plied kids with crappy foods and no nutrition information and now you don’t care enough to help with it’s treatment. Typical! This is very much like the tobacco industry- they were supported and subsidized and romanticized by all of us…and when the public woke up, it was too late…people are sick, addicted and the cost of long-term care for the millions slowly suffocating is phenomenal. But if the government had not stepped in, I’d still be forced to smoke some jerks cigarette on buses, planes and any damn place they want to smoke. We had better buck up and shoulder the responsibility for the mess we made…nanny or no nanny!


May 4th, 2011
2:32 pm

When will government instrusion ever end? This is insane. I’m so glad I live in a place where some administrator can’t tell people how to raise their children.


May 4th, 2011
4:16 pm

Nah, let’s all abdicate all social responsibilities. After all, in 10-15 years, when the generation writing on this blog begins to see the cost physically and financially of the parent-induced chronic illnesses that insue, we can all giggle and be proud of ourselves…nor our problem, no money out of our pockets, and best of all- we didn’t let the government, and especially not that black president’s wife, tell us anything!