I asked my friend Beth Gates Bumgarner to be a guest blogger for us. We worked on the high school newspaper staff together. She is now raising four kids in Gwinnett County. Her kids are 2, 5, 8 and 10. She always has great links to news articles on her Facebook page or funny anecdotes about her kids.
We talked on the blog yesterday about the government using psychology to make our children choose healthier foods at school but Beth wonders if the government should be involved at all. Here’s her guest blog:
By Beth Gates Bumgarner
In a conversation with a friend I was lamenting the fact that I watched a boy in my son’s class open a lunchbox which contained half a sandwich, an entire sleeve of Oreos, and a large bottle of Gatorade. When the cookies and Gatorade were finished, I asked him if he was going to eat his sandwich. He answered, no, he wasn’t hungry. Well, who would be after eating that?
Upon hearing this story, my friend shook his head and sighed, “Well, that’s just another example of how our school systems are failing our children. The schools should’ve taught him and his parents how to make better food choices.” I was floored by his response. How was this a failing of the school system? It sure looked like a failing of parents to me!
Our First Lady, Michelle Obama, is tackling the issue of childhood obesity through her “Let’s Move” initiative. Her website states that 1 out of every 3 children in the United States is considered overweight or obese, a number that has tripled in the past 30 years. In the meantime, Congress is currently adjourned, but when they return they will be voting on a childhood nutrition bill, which will regulate and expand government food programs in our school systems. It aims to implement new, mandatory standards for school nutrition, as well as expand school meal programs to provide funds for supper.
Of course our nation needs healthy citizens! But, as with any well-intentioned government program, this one has ballooned in size and scope. Until my children entered school themselves, I wasn’t even aware that schools served breakfast, but apparently this has been going on for a long time. There are also summer meal programs and after school snack programs in some communities, all funded by tax dollars. Marketing materials are even available to help expand the programs!
Another provision in this legislation allows for tax breaks and subsidies to open grocery stores in poor areas. Kind of a “if you build it they will come” mentality. But, will they?
Should the government be involved in building grocery stores where grocery stores are unable to turn a profit in order to encourage people to buy something other than fast food? If children are not learning proper diet and nutrition at home, is it the government’s responsibility to take over their diet for three meals a day? Is it the taxpayers’ job to fund meals for these children? Do these programs create lasting change or do they create a cycle of dependence on government?