The Nanny State Invades The School Cafeteria

Today’s New York Times reports that the Senate is about to consider a proposal to ban candy, soda, and fatty foods from the nation’s school cafeterias:

Federal lawmakers are considering the broadest effort ever to limit what children eat: a national ban on selling candy, sugary soda and salty, fatty food in school snack bars, vending machines and à la carte cafeteria lines.


The nutrition standards would allow only plain bottled water and eight-ounce servings of fruit juice or plain or flavored low-fat milk with up to 170 calories to be sold in elementary and middle schools. High school students could also buy diet soda or, in places like school gyms, sports drinks. Other drinks with as many as 66 calories per eight ounces could be sold in high schools, but that threshold would drop to 25 calories per eight-ounce serving in five years.

Food for sale would have to be limited in saturated and trans fat and have less than 35 percent sugar. Sodium would be limited, and snacks must have no more than 180 calories per serving for middle and elementary schools and 200 calories for high schools.

And to make the blow against Federalism even more pronounced:

Although states would not be able to pass stronger restrictions, individual school districts could.

Can someone please point me to the portion of Article I, Section VIII of this document that gives Congress the authority to decide what appears on a child’s lunch tray on a daily basis ? Yes, I know that Congressional power has expanded far beyond where it was intended but there are times when the grab for power is so egregious and unauthorized that it becomes, for lack of a better term, galling.

But will the American people protest ? Will they flood Congressional phone lines in protest of this latest invasion of the nanny state into their lives ?

My guess is that, for the most part, the answer to those questions will be no. For the most part, Americans will look upon this as a good idea and will thank their enlightened leaders in Washington for telling them what their children should eat because, you know, we’re all too stupid to figure that out.

H/T: Cato@Liberty

  • Brad Warbiany

    When will we get to pass a law that limits our representatives’ gluttonous grabs for power?

  • Doug Mataconis


    Isn’t that what the Constitution is for ?

  • Brad Warbiany

    One would think that’s what the 2nd Amendment is for, but we’ll see if it survives DC v. Heller

  • KipEsquire

    I think you mean Article I, Section 8.

  • Doug Mataconis


    You are, of course, correct.

    Reference fixed.

  • tkc

    I’ve been told it is here:
    The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

    Not that I buy the ‘provide for the general welfare’ argument but I know a lot of people who do.

  • trumpetbob15


    I wonder how much longer it will be until these enlightened bozos remember all those kids who bring their lunch from home. Imagine all the high fat stuff parents could actually be packing in their child’s lunch box.

    Glad I got out of high school when I did. I don’t think I could have survived if I actually had to eat the trash that the schools served. Man, am I thankful for that Coke machine and the Little Caesars Pizza days when I could buy a whole pizza for to use as a lunch and an after school snack.

  • somebody

    I’m as outraged as anybody else. However, it is easy to understand the logic, as a reader points out in an e-mail over at Andrew Sullivan’s: the government is partially responsible for providing health care to Americans, so making sure they eat healthy when they’re young and lessen the burden on the system as they get older can be seen as a legitimate point of action by the government. Of course, this is the logic of totalitarians.

  • LBest

    The way I understand it there are already laws on school lunch programs. What do you expect a school to do take requests every month and provide something differnt for each child? Thats not pratical to do. Besides if you look at the increasing amount of fat children and adults then yes they are to stupid to make good choices. Public school is by nature a form a socialism and with that you get rules against choice not only in the content of their lunch but also what they learn. My family home schools because we are committed to making these choices ourselves and not leaving it to the system.

  • Doug Mataconis


    Where in the Constitution is the Congress authorized to tell a school district what it can offer in a school cafeteria ?

  • LBest


    I did not say they had the right, just that they do it anyhow and that is what you get with any social program–more bullshit.