First Lady Michelle Obama has long campaigned against childhood obesity. One of her targets has been the food served as public schools. Earlier this week she argued that students should not be permitted to pick what they eat at school because they will inevitably make bad, unhealthy choices. Instead, adults should control the menus to ensure that meals involving vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are served.
I think the First Lady has good intentions, and I think her real target is parents, who obviously should be focused on decision-making that affects the health of their children. Still, I groan whenever I hear someone involved with government saying that personal choice should be eliminated, and a federally mandated menu determined by purported experts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture substituted instead. Our government now tries to do so much — and yet does so little of it well. Can’t something like school lunches be left to the decisions of parents and kids, without officious federal busybodies with taxpayer-funded jobs butting in to tell us what to do?
I’m not suggesting that kindergartners or first graders should be deciding what to eat, but at some point we need to allow kids, and parents, make choices. Many kids already lead such regimented lives where there is nary a spontaneous moment or free decision. How are kids supposed to learn how to make good decisions if they never, in fact, make any decisions? Let them decide what to eat, or let parents pack their lunch — which is what happened when I was a kid. If they make bad decisions and put on weight, their parents can respond and talk to them — which is what should be happening anyway.