Parents of children at a Missouri school are fighting back after the school district announced it was banning fast food from being eaten on campus during school hours.
A terse announcement on the Facebook page of Dear Elementary in the Richmond School District in Richmond, Missouri, stated that “(n)ew board policy states that no fast food is allowed at lunch or during school hours for students.”
One would assume that there isn’t a Carl’s Jr. anywhere inside Dear Elementary or any of the other schools in Richmond. However, this means that parents can’t even make choices regarding what their own children bring to school.
It didn’t take long after the Aug. 15 announcement for the district to start receiving significant backlash.
“At the end of the day, we want to be able to decide on our own,” Chris Swafford, who has five kids in the district and two at Dear Elementary, told WDAF-TV.
“I thought it was overstepping at its finest,” he said. “It’s up to parents what their children eat.”
Swafford also contended that fast food was being made a popular scapegoat, claiming that there wasn’t a whole lot of nutritional difference between some of the bagged lunches that parents give their children and the fast food lunches the school was banning.
“Just because I don’t personally bring fast food to my children at school doesn’t mean other parents shouldn’t be able to do,” Swafford said.
“Parents’ lives are busy. They sometimes have things going on, and sometimes, grabbing a 10-piece nugget from McDonald’s and taking it to their child shouldn’t be an issue.”
Richmond School District Superintendent Mike Aytes told WDAF that district personnel were too busy to comment on the issue. Parents on Facebook, however, weren’t. School lunches, as those who remember Michelle Obama’s tenure as first lady know, are a hot-button issue.
“I don’t agree with this. At all,” one parent wrote.
“I’m the parent. It is my job to parent my child and make those decisions. What she eats, how much she eats, what she wears, how she does her hair, if I keep her home because she is sick, those are MY decisions The schools sole responsibility is to provide a safe, positive learning environment for my children to get an education. They are not, and will not be making parenting decisions for my children.”
“They don’t get money from students that bring a lunch from home. Why can’t they have a burger with family on special occasions?!” another wrote. “This is stupid as can be!”
One of the more common arguments for the policy wasn’t health outcomes, however, but the fact that fast food represents privilege.
“My kids take their lunch,” parent Karen Williams said. While she opposed the policy, she said she understood fast food might make other kids feel bad. “Kids have been getting their birthday lunch brought to them since they were in kindergarten. I think it’s kind of silly, but I could see how other kids would feel sad if they didn’t have anything ever.”
“Oddly I support this,” another Facebook commenter wrote, according to Fox News. “I would hope they are doing this for the right reasons though. That being it’s simply not right for kids who do not ever get these things to watch the other classmates eat it in front of them. Some parents can’t afford to bring child fast food.”
“So what about all of the other kids that are going to be complaining that your kid got a happy meal and they didn’t? What about the kids who parents can’t afford to bring their children lunch or something like that? Are you really gonna let your kid eat their happy meal in front of all these other kids? They’re avoiding those issues all together with this policy,” another person defending the plan wrote.
Head, meet hand.
I can marginally understand the concept behind banning fast food in schools for health reasons, although I’d point out that school-provided or home-cooked lunches aren’t necessarily any healthier. However, since when did fast food become a status symbol? Maybe it’s just me, but I was under the impression it was the other way around.
Here’s a novel idea: Let’s go further in eliminating outward vestiges of privileges. Why stop at burgers and fries?
Let’s put all these kids in school uniforms so nobody has to worry about being clothes-conscious. Students can’t be bused to school, since those buses might stop in front of their houses and other students would see how rich their families are. All kids will be henceforth driven to class in school-issued 2003 Kia Rios so that nobody will seem any richer than anyone else. Trained dogs will be stationed at all entrances, sniffing out any students that may try to smuggle in a Whopper or a Frosty.
Busybody educators of the world, unite and take over!
Yes, this is wholly ridiculous — just as ridiculous as banning fast food from schools that happily serve pigswill, all in the name of health consciousness and privilege-checking.
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