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Government Isn't Your Mommy

I heard a news article this week about how Michelle Obama's Healthy Kids Initiative (or whatever it's called) is aiming to feed 2,000,000 children three healthy meals a day, 365 days a year. No longer will it just be breakfast during the school year; they're going to feed kids all the time in a push to reduce childhood obesity.

The analyst was praising this initiative.

I have to ask, "are you nuts?!?"

Let's think this through for a moment. How many government bureaucrats is it going to take to feed 2,000,000 children three meals a day?

1. All the people who cook the food
2. All the people who serve the food
3. All the people who purchase the food

But it doesn't stop there. There's also:

4. The nutritionists hired to create menus. They'll have meetings, and conferences, and mega phone calls to discuss all the different things they should serve.

5. The consultants hired to study which green vegetables kids will actually eat.

6. The university graduate students hired to actually conduct these studies.

7. The professors hired to analyze the results and share them with the consultants.

Then let's not leave out the finance guys.

8. The commodities experts hired to give their opinion on which commodities will be relatively more expensive by the end of the year, so that menus can be altered to reflect the cheapest, healthiest food.

What about government bureaucrats?

9. The accountants hired to oversee the program.
10. The managers hired to oversee the accountants.

And let's not forget the states:

11. The bureaucrats each state hires to lobby the federal government for more share of the federal dollars for the state meal programs.

12. The federal bureaucrats hired to analyze the submissions by the state governments and decide how to divvy up the money.

And it goes on, and on, and on.

Let me be really radical here. I know food is expensive, but on a relative basis, it is cheaper today than it ever has been, as a proportion of one's income. If one is thrifty, and does not buy prepared food, cereal, or ice cream, one can feed a family of four on $125/week (in the U.S. anyway; up here in Canada dairy is way more expensive).

Food banks are available for those whose money is really stretched.

If you cannot feed your children, you should not have your children.

Isn't feeding your kids one of the most basic parenting responsibilities? If the state starts feeding the kids, then what are parents supposed to do? We're absolving them of the necessity of being parents. And then we wonder why kids misbehave.

I understand the rationale for breakfast feeding programs; kids who are hungry don't learn as well. That doesn't mean I agree with them necessarily, though. If a parent doesn't feed a child breakfast, that should be grounds for removing the child from the home.

So Ms. Obama, I agree kids need to eat more healthily. But this is not the way to do it. How about we get back to the idea that parents feed their kids? I know it's radical (actually expecting responsibility from parents), but it would do a lot of good.

And it would cost a whole lot less money.

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At 10:27 AM , Blogger King of King's Princess said…

Absolutely. Where does the government stop? A parent has to provide the three basis needs for their children- shelter, clothing and food. That is a parents responsibility. When are the parents held responsible for their children?


At 10:36 AM , Blogger Laura said…

Before long, children will leave the hospital after birth, be shuttle into a government run "school", be fed,clothed and educated 365 days a year until they are 18. They will spend an average of 10 hours a day in these "schools" and parents will get used to having someone else care for their children. It will all be billed as "the greater good" for the children and free up parents to spend more time away from home and family and ensure that children not only are properly indoctrinated but totally dependent on the government for every aspect of their lives. Sounds like Utopia to me :(


At 10:40 AM , Anonymous Sheila Jaworski known as Ladydarksky on facebook said…

have to say i beg to differ on the dairy is more expensive in canada hun it's going up and up here too in jersey almost 4 dollars a gallon of milk and lets not talk about half gallons or cheese of any kind. but feeding our kids? last thing i need is some paper pushing pansie telling me how much my kid should eat, when and where. that's my job not there's first it's how to raise your kid, (mind you, you see what happened when they did that kids doing anything they please and threatening there parents even killing them) and now they want to feed my kid? what's next taking them bathing them and clothing them? they need to leave us alone! I agree with Laura on her comment this is crazy!


At 10:48 AM , Blogger Sheila said…

Sheila: I'll take your $4 a gallon milk and raise you $4.49, last time I shopped! :). Your meat is cheaper, too. We're always so excited when we go camping in the U.S. because of the price of groceries :).

I try to buy all my meat directly from farmers I know so that I don't have to pay the exorbitant supermarket prices.

Anyway, I totally agree with all of you, obviously. It's scary, isn't it? I don't think our society will get better until parents step up to the plate--and government too often is preventing that. Here in Ontario, Canada, they're instituting full time day care, for 3 and up soon. It's so sad.


At 10:57 AM , Blogger Michelle said…

The "nanny state" that the Government tries push on people is ridiculous. If they would support the family more than trying to take out of our hands what we're already doing there would be less bureaucratic red tape. I think that the individuals they are trying to assist really just need support not directions.

PS: I agree Sheila it is expensive up here and going up more every day. Try buying fresh vegetables in Saskatchewan in January. That part of my bill alone is $30.00 and that's for very few things.


At 11:04 AM , Blogger Sheila said…

Michelle, I had a cousin who worked for 3 years as a doctor up in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. Apples were $7.00/pound. It was just ridiculous! Mind you, when we were in Hawaii a while ago, it was almost as bad. I guess anywhere you need to transport food to is really bad. The thing I don't understand about dairy being expensive is that this is dairy country!


At 11:20 AM , Blogger Katy-Anne said…

I feed a family of 5 on roughly $100 a week. I make my own bread (much healthier than ANY bread from the store) and make most things from scratch.

My son does eat breakfast at school on the days he goes. He is 3 and has to be up at 6 and that's if we get him up with just enough time to get ready. He's also in special ed so the point of him having breakfast at school is to see the other kids eating and want to eat like them. It's been working wonders. I can easily provide breakfast at any time though so if he's sick from school, I still have the means to feed him. Besides, since I pay for the food from the school, I see that as me providing it, since it's still food I pay for that he eats.

My kids put away a lot of food. I do expect our grocery bill to rise when the baby is born and starts to eat solids. With 4 kids and 3 adults in the house by then, I will be automatically doubling every single recipe. I think having a family of 6 plus an extra adult will change a lot. We'll see.


At 11:30 AM , Anonymous Amanda said…

I have to say that I disagree with this post. I think that government run programs will at least ensure that all children are given the opprotunity to have decent, healthy food to eat and grow. Unfortunately not all parents have their children's best interest at heart or for a variety of reasons are unable to provide these things and by providing it to everyone these children do not feel more isolated from their peers as it isn't their choice to be hungry it is their parents.Knowing some teachers in the public school system in Canada who take breakfast out of their own homes to feed their entire classrooms and notice that their kids are more attentive, more willing to learn and overall happier and for some of those kids it is the only healthy food they receive that day I applaud the US for doing meal programs- it would be a positive way to influence our children's lives and healthy eating habits in canada without singling children out or making them feel worse about their current economic situation. As for taking children away from their current homes that is just moving from one situation to another often worse situation. Although some foster homes are great there are a lot of foster homes that are not so great- as well as the children who are in the system already who have a variety of issues- behavioral, emotional, physical. Although I think parents are the ones who should be taking care of their kids and do think our children are our priority not all people who have kids are in the same boat and the children should not be punished for choices their parents make.


At 11:47 AM , Blogger Courtney said…

When is it enough?! This is where we get into the whole, "people having kids who SHOULDN'T have kids" thing...because they can't take care of them. As long as the government continues to spoon feed the lazy and those who don't want to help themselves, then it's never going to stop. The cure for childhood obesity is these lazy parents who don't want to put in the effort to fix their children a meal and instead drive them to McDonalds every single day. The obesity won't stop. We live in a society where everyone wants a handout: less responsibility and more money/freebies. It's sad. And it's not going to end because the government we have right now breeds this mentality. What ever happened to hard work?!


At 12:05 PM , Blogger Mandy said…

Thank you for this post!! I agree with it 100%. As parents, it is OUR responsibility to feed our kids and keep them healthy. NOT the governments. The government does not need to get involved in every aspect of our lives. It is getting out of control. Although I totally support SOME government programs, the more there are, the more Americans become dependent. It's a vicious cycle.


At 1:03 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

While I agree it's generally affordable to eat healthy, from what I have read often times people have to choose between paying their rent and buying food. So often times they go hungry rather than become homeless.

Maybe it shouldn't be the governments problem...maybe the solution would be that every church would have a well-stocked food pantry....

Nurse Bee


At 1:28 PM , Anonymous Kate said…

Thank you, Amanda. I can't agree with this post either. In fact, I feel it is quite 'closed-minded' and am rather offended by it. While I am not defending Michelle Obama's cause, I feel that she has good intentions. This is a sticky, sticky situation that can probably never be dealt with perfectly.

I do not feel that she is trying to "take away" anyone's maternal rights, rather providing for children whose mothers do not embrace those responsibilities. If every child who did not receive adequate care at home was taken away from that home, we would have the same financial issues you mentioned in this post, except in a different realm (foster care and orphanages/homes).

I have worked for a food program in the States and have witnessed firsthand so many mothers who do not adequately care for their children's needs. (Granted, yes, I do agree- If you cannot care for a child, do not have a child. However, the mother's lack of responsibility should not be held against an innocent child.)

These food programs provide incredible support for these children who would otherwise be under-nourished. Again, I do not have enough information on Michelle Obama's push to be in favor or against it, but I think that some of you should be a little more open minded in "defending the helpless".

Unfortunately, we live in a broken world that will never be free from these problems.


At 1:37 PM , Blogger Sheila said…


I know what you're saying, but here's the problem: before welfare came in, single parenthood wasn't a crisis. As soon as there was money around for single parenthood, it became a crisis.

The same is true with almost all government intervention. It's well-meaning, and it starts out just addressing a genuine need. But once it addresses it, it causes more of that need.

When they cut back on welfare in the 1990s in the U.S., and in Ontario a few years later, the welfare rolls shrunk and povery went down, because more people were forced to get a job.

I agree that some kids are very badly off--which is also why we're investigating fostering and adopting right now, and why we have done relief fostering in the past. We have to care for those kids.

However, one of the reasons more and more kids aren't being cared for adequately is because there is the expectation that if they don't do it, the government will. And that's where the problem comes in. Government is causing more of the problem.

If we started removing kids for not being fed, more parents would feed their kids.

It's simple cause and effect. The solution to helping the kids who are hungry now, I think, is to demand that parents use welfare money to feed them, and if they don't, the welfare money is taken away and the kids are taken away. But it isn't for government to do a parent's job.


At 1:52 PM , Anonymous Neal said…

Laura is absolutely right. That is what communist governments did as soon as the child was weaned from their mother, and the current administration in the US, which is not only the elected officials, but also the appointed heads of departments and the staff they hire , are in many cases, admitted and committed socialists or communists, so why should we expect anything different from them?
It was either Lenin or Stalin who pointed out that they didn't care about us, but wanted the children, so this follows closely as we head toward a Huxleyan Brave new woerld where the government is referred to as "The providers" a term and role once reserved for parents, specifically fathers.
Ultimately the goal of these people is to turn the US into a collossal big government nany state where people are all dependent on government, which is one means they will use to drag us into a new world order and one world government.
That is whyt the government wants control over every aspect of our lives. A large number of the people in political and economic power in western countries are convinced of the neccessity and rightness of one-world government,and will justify any means to achieve it as "in everyone's best interests, and "for the children".
Thus it is up to us. This is the final wake-up call. Wioll we step up to the plate and our God-given responsibilities as parents and give it all we've got in our kids lives? Are we prepared to accept that we cannot have it all, and must make choices, and do we as a society have the sense to know that the 18 years, give or take, we have with our kids is all we've got, and once its gone you can't get it back?
until we decide to exchange the "good life" as madison avenue and hollywood tell us it is, for the values of work, responsiubility God and family (not neccessarily in that order)and stop handing our kids over to daycares the moment they are weaned, and spending every moment we can with them to raise them according to the way they should go. If we don't, the government will be only too willing to step in and do it for us, and we will have to answer to God for our self absorption .


At 9:22 PM , Blogger The Happy Domestic said…

Sheila, while I'm ambivalent about your conclusions, I'm glad you tackled such a difficult subject for this post. The issues of child welfare are complex, as is the question of a welfare state. I would quickly point out that single parenthood is a separate issue from child poverty, although their is SOME correlation. With the state of the job market today, many people are without work, working jobs that cannot meet living expenses, or have insecure jobs. It may even be harder for married people, who find it difficult to be as flexible with shift work, long distance travel, etc.

As another poster pointed out, taking children from their natural families is NOT a good option. As a foster parent myself, I can tell you the incredible and long-lasting damage that is done to children by separating them from their parents, no matter how bad their family situation is. I would say this damage far outweighs the hardship of hunger - which, in Canada, does not compare to the extreme hunger in many developing countries. And, as also pointed out previously, foster care results in as much or very likely greater expense to the state than meal programmes.

Don't get me wrong: I absolutely concur that government should not take over the job of parents. That means they shouldn't be taking kids away from their parents either, unless their life is in immediate danger. Our Father promised that he sees even the tiniest sparrow fall to the ground, and how much more precious are little children than birds! And yes, we the Church need to step it up and start loving our neighbours. Heck, KNOWING our neighbours would be a good start. Using our tithes (10%) so that there would be food in our Father's house. Looking after the modern-day orphans and widows. If all the Jesus followers in our nation would DO this, child welfare would cease to be a national issue, I promise you.


At 9:40 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

I would add one thing to the discussion. There seems to be concern here that because we know some children and some trying families will need help with food, that it automatically falls to to government to take care of the shortfall. I would argue that this falls to the church. We do need to feed the poor, we just don't need a government program to do it. My church runs a program that provides food for these children by quietly slipping the food in their backpacks at school. We feed a lot of children whose parents can't or won't . And we do it without ridiculous cost of government.

As for removing children from the home; a good thought but unrealistic one. It takes a lot to remove a child from a parent, even when they are physically or sexually abused. So to try to get removal for not feeding breakfast just won't happen.


At 10:19 PM , Anonymous Stephanie said…

Wow, you are really naive.


At 10:32 PM , Blogger Sheila said…

Kelly and Happy Domestic,

I completely agree with you. There is a world of difference between charity by government and charity by individuals (or churches). We, as Christians, have an obligation to care for those around us (especially children).

However, when government pays for things, it tends to result in a sense of entitlement and a denial of responsibility. When individuals or churches give charity, it tends to result in more of a leg up than a simple handout. The dynamics are completely different.

I also hear what you're saying about how removing kids from the home isn't necessarily the answer, and I do admit to throwing that in with a little bit of tongue and cheek. However, I'm left with this question: if removing kids isn't right, then what should we do? The government gives food stamps and welfare, and food banks are available. There is really no excuse for not feeding your children. And if removing kids isn't right, then what should we do?

If governments feed children, it entrenches the problem, and the problem will get worse, not better.

So while you may disagree with some of my conclusions, I still honestly ask: what do we do, then? Spending this kind of money is ridiculous; if we spend it here, we don't spend it somewhere else. The government is already broke. We can't afford it, and we already pay money through food stamps and welfare to feed kids. So what do we do?

And Stephanie, your comment isn't helpful. First, it's completely unclear whom you're calling naive. But second, I don't mind debate, but then please, talk. Labelling people without any constructive comment is ridiculous.


At 1:30 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

I totally agree with this post!!! I personally know parents who would rather go out and party then buy food for their homes. We as a family have had hard times, but we get through them together, and it helps when you know you have God on your side. There are a lot of jobs out there and should be no reason you can't put food on the table. If you need to choose rent or food, maybe you need a better job or cheeper place to live. Here in Ontario there are a lot of low income housing. In my opinion if you love and want your children, you will raise them, if not let someone who can't have children raise them. Children shouldn't have to suffer because you are selfish, you only have one chance to raise them!


At 2:08 PM , Anonymous founders academy said…

The United States' Founding Fathers intended the American citizen to be self-governing. They established a system of government that they said was wholly inadequate for any other type of citizen. Our current government distrusts and disrespects the average citizen, and routinely replaces their judgement for ours. It is the duty of every free-born citizen to fight these intrusions on liberty. Don't leave it to someone else.


At 12:48 AM , Blogger Jen's Busy Days said…

If anyone has seen Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution I don't think you would be at all confident that the US government could satisfactorily provide a healthy meal even once a day to kids in schools.

Education and funding at an individual level is better than allowing big corporation to be involved in the health of the United States.

Best wishes
Jen in Australia
(where there are school breakfast programs but only for those dropped off early in before school care and no lunch programs as far as I know)


At 3:25 PM , Blogger Herding Grasshoppers said…


You may have been tongue in cheek about removing kids from parents who don't feed them (and I'm not talking about parents who buy school lunches, etc.), but you're right about government aid making things worse. Why struggle and sacrifice to be responsible when you can get a handout?

What really gripes me is that so often the parents' "financial crisis" is exacerbated by their infantile decision-making process. I've seen far too many moms that "don't have enough money for groceries", but she's got cable for her big flat-screen TV, a cell phone for texting all her "BFF's", and a closet full of trendy clothes.

I know, not everyone that needs help is like that. And there are people who genuinely should be helped. I'm not completely cold-hearted, but I think we need to do our "helping" with a lot more discernment and - often - with a lot more conditions imposed.

Just my two cents,



At 9:53 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

I see it as "helpful" when the children get fed elsewhere... unfortunately I am a stay at home Mum, trying to stretch one paycheque to cover all our expenses and it is the food budget that suffers when there is an unexpected expense (like last night when I drove into the ditch and we had to pay $160 to get out!) Quite often we only have a couple meals per day instead of three plus snacks. It would be wonderful to be a postion like normal people to plan a menu and to go to the store and buy whatever supplies needed to make those items, but it simply doesn't happen, at least at the moment. I think people have the attitude that there isn't any "need" locally and so they don't see others as struggling financially around them and consequently don't reach out to help. I am guessing these 2 million meals will be served in the inner-cities and not in the wealthy areas of America.

Just my two cents... but better government intervention than going hungry! I know from experience that rumbling tummies are fun (sadly my kids "say things like -- can we have (fill in blank) or can we afford it?" And sometimes we have to say no, we CAN'T afford it! They know when it is still a few days till pay day what rationing and making it last is all about). I suppose the only plus side is I am losing weight and my jeans are falling off!


At 9:54 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

... that was supposed to say "Rumbling tummies AREN'T fun" -- sorry missed a word and changed the meaning....


At 9:25 PM , Blogger Alisdair said…

How about a column on Dead-beat Dads who refused to pay child support, Sheila? In my own situation, I am owed over $7,000K. That would go a very long way to paying down my crippling debts and buying food and necessities for the family!


At 2:18 PM , Anonymous Jennifer said…

I agree with Herding Grasshoppers. I see a lot of people (my own family included) who have a lot of "necessities" that aren't really necessities. For our household, we could drop cable and smart-phones and our financial situation would improve greatly. My husband works in IT, so internet would have to stay. And we use our local Angelfood Ministries some months to ensure that I'm feeding my family healthy food. We have recently discovered that my son has a lot of food allergies, so the use of angelfood has dropped somewhat because of that. But I love that it's available and there's assistance for those of us who need help, but don't want to rely on the government.


At 2:18 PM , Anonymous Jennifer said…

I agree with Herding Grasshoppers. I see a lot of people (my own family included) who have a lot of "necessities" that aren't really necessities. For our household, we could drop cable and smart-phones and our financial situation would improve greatly. My husband works in IT, so internet would have to stay. And we use our local Angelfood Ministries some months to ensure that I'm feeding my family healthy food. We have recently discovered that my son has a lot of food allergies, so the use of angelfood has dropped somewhat because of that. But I love that it's available and there's assistance for those of us who need help, but don't want to rely on the government.

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Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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