The Caldwell School District located in northern New Jersey is the latest school district to ban all kinds of foods from birthday parties.  Before long school districts infected with “Disordered Eating Fever” will be telling you what you can give your kids for lunch.

The Food Police are alive and well and are coming to your town in the very near future.  Following a popular trend in New Jersey, a trend based on disordered eating, ignorance and the influence of the “Nanny State,” the Caldwell school board voted to ban all foods at birthday celebrations, following recommendations made by a committee of school nurses, principals, and members of the town’s Home-School Association.

According to an article that appeared in the September 19, 2007 edition of the Newark Star-Ledger, Caldwell Superintendent of Schools Dan Gerardi said, “The committee rejected the idea of allowing healthy snacks for birthdays because of the difficulty in deciding what constitutes a healthy snack.”

This statement proves that people have lost their way and even the people in charge of educating our children cannot determine “what constitutes a healthy snack.”  Things so bad that a school district located in one of the most affluent areas in New Jersey cannot figure out what is healthy.

Since the school system can’t figure out what’s healthy, how can it be entrusted with feeding kids? How can people who can’t figure out what a healthy snack is figure out what healthy food is?  What changes are being made to the menu available to the kids in Caldwell based on the school board’s inability to recognize the merits of a variety of foods?

This superintendent says the goals of his district are to “combat student obesity, promote healthy eating and be sensitive to children with food allergies.”  Being that the district can’t even figure out what is healthy, these educators cannot combat obesity and promote healthy eating, even with help from their committee of experts.  If these people cannot identify what is healthy they cannot provide their children with proper nutritional guidance.

It’s quite possible, even logical, to say that if the Caldwell folks can’t figure out what’s healthy, they are feeding their students the wrong foods.  If a person says they know that there is a difference between legal and illegal, but does not know what constitutes legal, isn’t that a big problem?

The position taken by this board of education is illogical and intellectually dishonest.  Does anybody, save the most strident nutritional busybody, really think that one cup cake per student 10-15 times per year contributes to obesity?  And again, if this school system doesn’t know a healthy snack, how can they know an unhealthy snack? Because the school district is out of its depth, it just bans all foods.  How’s that for policy making?  Don’t understand an issue or an item?  Ban it. 

If a kid wears a t-shirt that someone, anyone, deems offensive the solution – according to this mindset – is to ban all t-shirts with writing.  This is a dangerous way to make policy. The action taken by this board of education illustrates that disordered eating is an enormous problem in our society and it now influences public policy, and we are sending kids another message that not eating is preferable to eating. 

Restricting food for all kids has become the way that public officials deal with a problem that may affect only some kids. Now that we have let the authorities take us down this road, there is nothing to prevent them from continuing to make ill-informed decisions – and ban all kinds of items – about what we can feed our children.

Imagine if a fitness expert decided that wrestling was the best exercise for children and then recommended that all kids, girls and boys, had to wrestle, and as a result a school board enacted a plan that required all kids wrestle. This is a ludicrous scenario, but it is exactly what the Caldwell school system has done.

At the end of the Star-Ledger article the Caldwell superintendent says, “Parents are still allowed to pack whatever they like for their children’s lunches,” as if this is some kind of special privilege.  By the way, it won’t be long before this school district and others like it start telling people that they can’t give their kids peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Oreos, a chicken cutlet sandwich (it’s fried!), certain types of granola bars (they contain too much fat!), more than 2 pieces of bread (carbs are killers!) or anything with mayonnaise on it (derived from eggs and eggs are BAD!). And we’ll see a day real soon where school districts have an approved ingredients list for foods that kids will be able to have in school. 

Laugh now, but I’ll be here to say “I told you so.”  And despite all of this, kids and adults will still be unhealthy because they will not know how to eat.


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