RAEFORD — A preschooler at West Hoke Elementary School ate three chicken nuggets for lunch Jan. 30 because a state employee told her the lunch her mother packed was not nutritious.
The girl’s turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips, and apple juice did not meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines, according to the interpretation of the agent who was inspecting all lunch boxes in her More at Four classroom that day.
The Division of Child Development and Early Education at the Department of Health and Human Services requires all lunches served in pre-kindergarten programs — including in-home day care centers — to meet USDA guidelines. That means lunches must consist of one serving of meat, one serving of milk, one serving of grain, and two servings of fruit or vegetables, even if the lunches are brought from home.
When home-packed lunches do not include all of the required items, child care providers must supplement them with the missing ones.
- Sara Burrows associate editor of Carolina Journal.Full Story
A second mother has come forward to say her child's lunch, at the same school, was replaced.
Disregard of Parental Rights:
The DHHS and the school blatantly violated parent's rights. When did it become okay to disregard the rights and wishes of the parents in the care of their own children? It is not alright to take the parent completely out of the equation. Parents have rights.
While the Hoke County school board does not address parental rights when it comes to food selection, they do recognize the importance of parental involvement in their child’s education.
School board policy: 1310/4002 The board recognizes the critical role of parents in the education of their children and in the schools.http://www.hcs.k12.nc.us/search
the Hoke county school board and the DHHS do not have the right to indiscriminately bypass the wishes of the parent in order to force their own agenda. Parents should have the right to feed their own children whatever they want. How can they pass and enforce guidelines that exclude the parent in the decision making for their own children? Parents should have the right to feed their children what they wish. A better alternative would be for the school and the DHHS to educate the parents who they believe are not providing a healthy diet to their children so that the parents can make an informed decision. It is not their place to force what they believe is healthy eating habits upon other people’s children.
In addition to tramping on parental rights, this policy could also be illegal, it is certainly unconstitutional and has the potential to harmful to children's health and potentially lethal.
The Hoke school board states in policy code 3515 that The United States Constitution and North Carolina Constitution protect the right of an individual to choose his or her own religious or non-religious beliefs and prohibit any governmental action that may advance or inhibit such beliefs. This policy is intended to protect the religious rights of students and school personnel, to preserve the separation of church and state, and to provide guidance to students and personnel about religion in the public schools.
North Carolina constitution Article 1 Sec. 19.
Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools, libraries, and the means of education shall forever be encouraged. No person shall be taken, imprisoned, or disseized of his freehold, liberties, or privileges, or outlawed, or exiled, or in any manner deprived of his life, liberty, or property, but by the law of the land. No person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws; nor shall any person be subjected to discrimination by the State because of race, color, religion, or national origin.
In addition, the US Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Guidelines, that the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services follows specifically states:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, and where applicable, sex, marital status, familial status, parental status, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, political beliefs, reprisal, or because all or part of an individual’s income is derived from any public assistance program. “In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, political beliefs, or disability.
Providing students with food that goes against the child’s religious belief would clearly be in violation of the US Constitution, the North Carolina Constitution and the policies of both the US Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Guidelines and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services guidelines.
The policy also is contrary to what we know of childhood development. Most pediatricians and child psychologists and psychiatrists agree that children go through food phases. Children will go through periods where they may only eat few or even one type of food. While they all state that a balanced diet is best (and some would even disagree as to what constitutes a balanced diet), they generally agree that children, when going through these phases should be encouraged to eat a variety of foods, but not forced. This policy goes against this by trying to force the child to eat foods they deem acceptable in place of the food the child would actually eat. In the case of the story above, the child ate only 3 chicken nuggets (which are probably highly processed) instead of the turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips, and apple juice that the parent provided.
This policy can also be dangerous, even lethal if the child is on a special diet due to health concerns or allergies.
There are many diseases where a child’s body may not be able to process certain foods. In addition, some children have food allergies, some severe enough to produce hives or anaphylaxis, a life threatening condition. The school would be held responsible for providing a child food that caused a negative reaction in the child.
Many parents also follow special diets for health or religious reasons. The DHHS thinks that their way is the absolute best way for all students and that all students are required to follow their guidelines, religion be damned!
How can a school and the DHHS tell parents that their children cannot keep Kosher? They can’t. This is NOT KOSHER!! The USDA guidelines state that lunches must consist of one serving of meat, one serving of milk, one serving of grain, and two servings of fruit or vegetables, even if the lunches are brought from home. One serving of meat and one serving of milk, that goes against Kosher dietary laws right there. Most schools do not prepare Kosher meals. Providing anything from the kitchen to the child would go against that family’s religious beliefs.
What if the child is lactose intolerant or has a milk allergy. One serving of grain, not good for those who are gluten intolerant. Not to mention, what specifically the school is serving on any given day may have ingredients that the child is intolerant or allergic to. Chicken nuggets, while the main ingredient is chicken, has fillers and breading which would detrimental to the health of a child who is gluten intolerant.
What if the family is vegetarian or prescribes to another kind of diet the precludes certain foods? Not allowed according to the food dictators.
Let parents be the parents and take responsibility for their own children. Let parents decide what their children can/cannot, should/should not eat.