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Jazlyn Zambrano is four years old. She attends pre-school at the West Hoke Elementary School in Hoke County North Carolina. Recently, Jazlyn’s mother Diane picked her up from school only to learn that the sack lunch that Diane had packed for little Jazlyn had been taken from her. An official had come through the school for the purpose of inspecting student lunches. The official apparently had the authority to rule on any lunch that didn’t pass nutritional muster, and dispatch the owner of the offending lunch to the school cafeteria to either supplement it or replace the lunch altogether.
So why didn’t Jazlyn’s lunch measure up? According to Ms. Zambrano, Jazlyn’s lunch consisted of a cheese and salami sandwich on a wheat bun with apple juice.
Two things seem immediately apparent from this short list of facts. One, Diane Zambrano is a good mom. Rather than avail herself of the free or reduced-price lunch that has become the norm on most public school campuses (including those right here in Tyler, Texas where this piece is being written), Ms. Zambrano took the time to go to the store, buy the groceries and then get up on that school morning to make lunch for her little girl.
Second, it seems likely that Jazlyn likes cheese and salami sandwiches. I think Diane Zambrano made a cheese and salami sandwich for Jazlyn because she believed that Jazlyn would actually eat it rather than trade it or throw it away. The lunch that your child never eats is the least nutritious of all. (See an earlier story on school lunches in Los Angeles here.)
But none of this cut any ice with the school lunch police. So little four year-old Jazlyn was sent straightaway to the state-approved school cafeteria and a memo from the school was sent home to Ms. Zambrano.
Now, you’re asking, what did Jazlyn find in the school cafeteria that passed the nutritional muster that her salami and cheese sandwich on a wheat bun failed? The answer: chicken nuggets, a sweet potato, bread and milk.
Absurd, I know. But if you get in the weeds about the merits of chicken nuggets versus cheese and salami on a wheat bun, you’re completely missing the point.
If we here in the land of the free have arrived at the place where bureaucrats are being hired by the state to pull snap inspections on the sack lunches of pre-school children, we’re not nearly as free as we’d like to think. We know from the story the names of Diane Zambrano and her daughter Jazlyn. But the “official” who confiscated her lunch is nameless, faceless and soulless — a minion of an overweening nanny state.
And if the state has arrogated to itself controlling say in what Ms. Zambrano packs in her own child’s school lunch — hitherto unthinkable — how long before that say extends into Ms. Zambrano’s home? And then into your home?
How long before you are called to a meeting at the school with the principal, the school nurse and some school district nutrition expert, all as a result of the school having downloaded from your kid what you and your family eat? How long before that troika of bureaucrats institutes a “nutritional audit” of your home, backed by the authority to impose upon you mandatory nutritional standards that you must maintain under threat of fine or more serious sanction?
Put very simply: at the point where the state gains the power to confiscate the school lunch of a four year-old, where exactly will the encroachment on individual liberty end?
To borrow from Sarah Palin, how wee-wee’d up would you get if the state started telling you what to pack in your kid’s lunch?
For the sake of the republic, I’d sure like to believe pretty darned wee-wee’d up.
I’d sure like to believe.