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Government: The Great Dietitian


New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently complained about the food trucks lining the streets of his city.

“The little [food] stand is now getting to be these enormous trucks with generators . . . and they take up parking places and they block traffic,” Wall Street Journal recorded the mayor as saying.

It’s hard to believe Mayor Bloomberg’s tiff with food trucks has anything to do with the lack of parking spaces available in New York City. His record for new laws and regulations affecting the eating habits of his constituents precedes him–and it would come as no surprise if New York’s food trucks were his next victims.

The trucks would only add to the long list of imposed dietary guidelines Americans must now follow.

Call it the rise of the nanny state.

You could even say it started with New York and the state’s ban on artificial trans fat in its restaurants. Following that law came a new one forcing many of its restaurant chains to post calorie information on menu boards and some must print the information on the menus themselves.

After the “healthy” crackdown in New York, President Obama took it a step further in his health care plan. Tucked inside ObamaCare is a federal menu-labeling law. This new law will affect restaurants with 20 or more locations by forcing them to print nutritional information for menu items on the menus themselves, menu boards and even drive-thrus. This law also requires vending machine owners to comply by the same rules.

First Lady Michelle Obama entered the scene with her own ideas on how to combat the diets of Americans. She has made it clear her No. 1 priority is to battle childhood obesity with her “Let’s Move” campaign. So far she’s managed to get Disney, Walmart and singer, songwriter Beyonce on board to influence America’s young to be more active and eat healthier foods.

But it doesn’t stop there. Even public school districts are jumping on the nanny state bandwagon: public school Little Village Academy on Chicago’s West Side banned students from bringing a homemade lunch, instead students must eat school-provided lunches, or not eat at all.

Los Angeles public schools have stopped sales of chocolate- and strawberry-flavored milk on campuses as well as “unhealthy” foods like corndogs and chicken nuggets. What will students of Los Angeles’ public schools eat instead? The Los Angeles Times suggests menu items such as spinach tortellini in butternut squash sauce and California sushi rolls, along with many ethnic foods. It seems students will soon develop a palate for more sophisticated foods.

While the message to eat healthy foods and be active is well and good, when do the jobs of the government and school officials end and the role of personal responsibility begin?

This nanny state approach of the government telling people what they can and cannot eat not only takes away the fundamental right to choose what you eat, but also impacts your pocketbook.

For example, the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which passed Congress and was signed into law by President Obama in December 2010, is forcing school districts to increase the costs of school lunches.

The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 sets a national minimum rate that reflects the cost of preparing a meal. “School districts are required to charge the difference between federal reimbursement rates for free meals and paid meals. Districts are given five years to phase in price increases to meet the target, said Assistant Superintendent for Business and Finance Patrick McDermott,” writes the Journal Standard.

Not only are student menus changing, for better or worse, depending on the child, but parents and taxpayers are footing the bill. From 1977 to 2007, total federal expenditures on the National School Lunch Program increased from $6.6 billion to nearly $11 billion annually, while students participating in the program only increased by just more than four million. The Federal Education Budget Project notes, “School lunch – and to a certain extent, breakfast – spending has primarily driven the expenditure increases due to a higher number of students enrolled in fully subsidized meal programs.”

Those costs will only go up as school districts are forced to comply with mandated price increases–and the bill will fall to parents and taxpayers. The government and school districts seem to have forgotten that what Americans eat is a choice–whether it be McDonald’s or packing your child’s lunch for school.

Before New York Mayor Bloomberg has his way with the city’s food trucks, it would be in the best interest for the people of New York and in the rest of nation to take a stand for personal liberties and remind the government that what you eat is your choice.

Call it the rise of personal choice.

Rebekah Rast is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government (ALG) and You can follower her on twitter at @RebekahRast.


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