By Cillian Zeal
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,
“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
“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.
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
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.