Palin: Parents should decide what kids eat in school
An effort by the Pennsylvania Board of Education to encourage public schools to limit sweets and introduce more healthy foods has attracted an unlikely critic: Sarah Palin.
The former Alaska governor was in Pennsylvania this week for a fundraiser at Plumstead Christian School in Plumstead Township in Bucks County.
Apparently believing that the education board was trying to ban sweets altogether in schools, Palin brought cookies with her to symbolize her opposition to what she called a “nanny state run amok,” according to the local news station WPVI.
"I look at Pennsylvania and I think of sweets -- I think of Hershey. Then I think, how dare they ban sweets from school here," said Palin.
The education board isn’t actually intending to ban sweets, but in an effort to help ease the nation’s obesity epidemic, it is planning to issue nutrition guidelines recommending that schools encourage parents to offer no more than one homemade sweet at school parties and that classrooms have one combined birthday celebration per month as a way to preserve instructional time.
Before she gave her speech, she tweeted that she was going to bring the students cookies to make her point about "laissez faire government."
"I wanted these kids to bring home the idea to their parents for discussion," Palin said, according to WPVI. "Who should be making the decisions what you eat, school choice and everything else? Should it be government or should it be the parents? It should be the parents."
Well, actually, it needs to be both, and the former governor of any U.S. state knows this.
The federal government got involved in feeding kids at schools because it had to.
Palin presumably knows that the government spends billions of dollars annually to fund food programs at public schools for students who can’t afford to eat otherwise. (About 22 percent of American children live in households experiencing food insecurity.) It seems reasonable that there be some nutritional guidelines about what kids are offered.
States get reimbursed for meals to kids who qualify for the federal breakfast and lunch programs as a result of their family’s income, and Palin probably knows that Alaska and Hawaii get higher reimbursement rates than the other states.
Government officials also say they have a responsibility to help turn around the nation’s obesity epidemic, and that encouraging healthy eating at public schools is part of the solution.
Congress was supposed to reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act, the federal legislation that determines federally funded school meals, this fall but has yet to do so. It has been a centerpiece of Michelle Obama’s campaign to curb childhood obesity by promoting healthful eating, and if passed, it will include stricter guidelines on the foods that schools can give to kids.
It does not, Sarah Palin will be glad to know, ban sweets in schools.
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| November 12, 2010; 5:00 AM ET
Categories: Health | Tags: banning sweets, child nutrition act, cookies, michelle obama, nutrition, nutrition guidelines, obesity, obesity epidemic, palin cookies, pennsylvania board of education, sarah palin, school breakfast, school lunch
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