The Corner

Mrs. Obama’s Minions

The Kale Cops are out. Via WATE News:

Dr. Justin Puckett was asked to sign a note sent home with his daughter Alia after the teacher saw her eating marshmallows and chocolate at lunch earlier this week.

He refused to do so, and posted it online instead, saying that it was just the latest in what he sees as a growing trend of overreaching by authorities. . . .

The substitute teacher wrote in the note sent home on Tuesday that a cafeteria employee said that her lunch consisted of four chocolate bars, a bag of marshmallows, Ritz crackers and a pickle.

“Please see that she packs a proper lunch tomorrow,” the teacher wrote. An attempt to reach the teacher for comment wasn’t immediately successful.

What the cafeteria worker and the substitute missed, however, was that the 8-year-old also had four pieces of ham and a low fat string cheese rather than a sandwich, since “we don’t eat a lot of bread,” said Puckett, who is double board certified in osteopathic family medicine and obesity medicine.

The irony of Dr. Puckett’s medical training makes this episode especially delicious. And it emphasizes the larger point: It is probably true, as Kirksville, Mo.’s school superintendent told WATE, that “it was all meant with the best of intentions,” and schools’ in loco parentis responsibilities have long extended to mealtime. Yet this was less an instance of in loco parentis than super loco parentis, which is a much more troubling proposition — and an all-too-common one. Government, especially at the federal level, is increasingly usurping decisions that were once reserved to the jurisdiction of the ultimate private space, the home.

Enter Michelle Obama. The First Lady’s school lunch initiative has met with scoffing, and even outright revolt. But even if her policies should ultimately, is it not still likely that she has “moved the window” when it comes to the willingness, or ability, of government officials to dictate nutritional choices? Her mystery mush may not make it onto trays after 2016, but her initiative has insinuated the federal government into cafeteria decision-making. The result is that the debate in some quarters now centers on which foods are and are not appropriate for the federal government to encourage — conceding the debate over whether the federal government should be involved at all.

Returning government to its original sphere is not just about pushing back against individual policies that overreach, but against the atmosphere of acquiescence that enables and encourages those policies.

Ian Tuttle — Ian Tuttle is the former Thomas L. Rhodes Journalism Fellow at the National Review Institute.

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