Jeff Meadors: $3.2B lunch bill should be spent on teachers' planning at least

Jeff Meadors

Jeff Meadors

The latest effort to socialize public schools comes forth in a 280-page USDA bombshell on school nutrition calling itself a billing code of final rule. It will cost federal taxpayers $3.2 billion nationally over a five-year period. McDonald's, start smiling. Student athletes will be lining the drive-ins after bus call to get ahold of something resembling individual choice and American freedom that will hold them through training.

What is happening in this country? Will parents like mine who sent us to school with Vienna sausage and Kraft singles on white bread be retroactively jailed for past transgressions? Will there be no individual choice left in America by my retirement? How about downloading those $3.2 billion to states so we can enforce House Bill 994 in Georgia giving K-12 teachers a duty-free lunch?

This USDA rule requires schools to increase the availability of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat fluid milk in school meals, to reduce the levels of sodium, saturated fat and trans fats and to meet the nutritional needs of school children within their caloric requirements.

Is no one doing this at home? No wonder voucher advocates send me so many heated emails.

Furthermore, this 280-page spawn of social engineering mandates that public schools include specific vegetable subgroups weekly that are dark green and orange with limited quantities of starchy vegetables to be replaced with whole grains, half of which must be whole grain-rich.

I can only guess that somewhere someone needs to justify their job in an economy where gas prices are straining school system budgets and where a local 2011 Georgia School of Excellence, Heard-Mixon Elementary School, was forced to reject a Raise the Salad Bar Grant earned by students and teachers thanks to unfunded QBE, austerity cuts and Board of Community Health nightmares headed our way in fiscal years 2013-15.

I'd like to raise something right now, but it's not salad.

Why bother with the USDA's atonement for government cheese while HB 994 goes unenforced in Georgia? HB 994 requires that every teacher who is employed in grades kindergarten through 12 for a period of time of more than one-half of the class periods of the regular school day be provided a daily lunch period of not less than 30 consecutive minutes, and such employee shall not be assigned any responsibilities during this lunch period. Clarification through Senate Bill 194 added that the 30 minutes cannot be a part of any daily planning.

We need to get duty-free lunch right before spending $3.2 billion on dark greens, the color orange and legumes.

Before long they'll be telling the local press what they can and can't publish. I'm heading down Ga. Highway 212 to the buffet at Frank's before they tell me I can't eat the color fried. And as for our teachers, let 'em eat lunch, for Pete's sake.

Jeff Meadors is vice chairman of the Newton County Board of Education. He may be reached at Jeffrey.meadors@gmail.com