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Big Mother Is Watching 533

theodp writes "Newsweek reports that high-schoolers are being denied the joy of ordering unhealthy lunches thanks to their schools' adoption of services like MealpayPlus. New web-based services allow moms to prepay for cafeteria food, specify what their kid can and can't buy, and go online to track his purchases." From the article: "If the child tries to buy a prohibited item, an alert flashes on the cashier's computer. Of course, the system isn't foolproof. According to a KRC Research survey, 73 percent of 8- to 12-year-olds are throwing out part of their lunches at least once a week; 36 percent are trading them." All I ever got was PB&J.
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Big Mother Is Watching

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  • by coffeeisclassy ( 991791 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @03:33AM (#15815464)
    If you feel the need to control what your kid eats in high school through a system like this, you've allready failed as a parent.
    • by Kelnor ( 990866 ) <`ed.ronlek' `ta' `tcatnoc'> on Monday July 31, 2006 @03:40AM (#15815490)
      But its a lot easier for parents to just fill out a checklist than to teach their children some lessons about healthy food and the right amount of sport to compensate fast food. Its like TV, why raising your kids by yourself if the little friend from Panasonic can do it also
      • Its like TV, why raising your kids by yourself if the little friend from Panasonic can do it also

        You're still failing at raising your kids. Every one knows that responsible parents only let their kids watch a TV from Sony!

        Comeon, they aren't going to become good little consumers without proper guidance.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 31, 2006 @05:50AM (#15815843)
        So true, if everyone would just rely on the well known bastion of self control that children have, all you have to do is teach and they'll make the right decision all the time. Or at least if they make the wrong decision once, they probably won't do it again, and this is so true with something like food where eating one unhealthy meal is usually all it takes for a child to go screaming back to mommy and daddy for healthy food.
        • by Valdrax ( 32670 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @09:01AM (#15816512)
          Thank you for saying everything that I wanted to say in a few short sentences.
          People who believe that some mythical "good parenting" exists that will result in kids always being well-behaved doesn't know kids.
          • by Roody Blashes ( 975889 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @10:15AM (#15816945) Homepage Journal
            HALT CITIZEN
            The Slashbot and Troll Unbiased Primary Insight Diagram does not include reasoning which leads to the above opinion on the related matter. Common causes for deviating from the Primary Diagram include the following:

            1. Posts utilizing "common sense".
            2. Posts resulting from "informed users".
            3. Posts attempting to obtain a fair compromise on an issue.

            Specifically, your post above violates the following principle(s) which have been listed as approved opinions that may be posted on Slashdot:

            1. All activities engaged in by children, being pure and innocent, and never engaging in any behavior beyond the bounds set by "good" parents, which are not sanctioned as acceptable by the Slashdot population, are a direct result of poor parenting.

            2. All monitoring, on any level, in any capacity, by any person and of any person, for any reason or goal, is strictly a matter of Big Brotherism and is to be abhorred without question or additional information, the circumstances not bearing relevance on the approved opinion.

            Please immediately cease and desist all activites which may be characterized as "free thinking", "reasoned", or "rational". Failure to comply may result in poor moderation which could lead to the removal of your posting ability for pre-determined amounts of time, or for your posts to be removed from a threshold visible by normal users. However, note that the moderation system should not be construed as a form of censorship.

            The Slashdot Pre-approved User and Troll Unbiased Moderation Committee thanks you for your cooperation. Together, we can make slashdot a wonderful place to mouthbreathe.
    • by October_30th ( 531777 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @03:42AM (#15815493) Homepage Journal
      You have way too much confidence in high school kids. Let's face it, they are still kids.

      I don't see what's so wrong with this. As long as the kids live at home, the parents should have a say in what the kids eat, what they wear and so on. If this system helps in achieving that goal, good. Another example is a parent who buys a cell phone to a kid on the condition that a) the kid carries it with him when he's out with his friends and b) answers the parent's call or at least calls back ASAP. Overprotective? I don't think so. Just common sense.

      • but then your child ends up stunted do you really want to control everything your child does in his life and when he/she is 18 just shove him out the door and say have fun in real life he will be tottally unprepared for it so yes it is overpretective i'm sorry but people need to make their own mistakes growing up and then feel the consequences of those mistakes you cant protect your child from the big bad boogeyman that is real life forever
        • by October_30th ( 531777 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @03:57AM (#15815553) Homepage Journal
          A fine sentiment, but health is something that kids should not be allowed to make mistakes with.
          • Kids have to be able to make mistakes with their health. Many kids experiment with drugs in high school, but yet they're not considered 'mature' enough to decide what they want to eat? What happens when they grow older and have never made any decisions for themselves? Those are the kids that live with mom and dad until they're 30, or until their parents throw them out of the house. Raising kids is tough, but if you honestly need to control a high-schooler's diet, you definitely need a little help in th
            • by teh kurisu ( 701097 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @04:26AM (#15815660) Homepage
              Experimenting with drugs is not a sign of maturity.
              • by kdemetter ( 965669 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @04:37AM (#15815688)
                I disagree

                when childeren go trough puberty , they experiment with all kinds of things , it's a part of discovering themselves .
                And the more you deny them to experiment , the more they will resist this .

                Of course , drugs is more of a problem because it's addicitive.

                The system is wrong , because it's not neccesary .

                The right way of workings is to let them discover things themselves , experiment with it , and let them draw conclusions of what's good and bad . That's the best way they will learn .

                And the more you try to restrict them , the more they will want to try it .

                you may get somethingh like this : one child has a parent who doesn't care what the child eats , he buys all the food for those who are not allowed to eat it , and he asks a higher prize for it .

                Kids are not stupid , you know .
                • by shotgunefx ( 239460 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @05:53AM (#15815849) Journal
                  Yes and no. Some autonomy is good. How much should depend on how much the child has earned. Letting kids do whatever they want is bad, not letting them do anything is bad too.

                  It's a balance. You can't micromanage every second of a kid's life and then expect him magically to be able to deal with the real world. But a lot of kids, if they were allowed to do whatever they felt like would end up in the gutter or worse.

                • by gutnor ( 872759 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @06:33AM (#15815969)
                  As a parent you need to find the fine line where to stop controling. Sure, there are some area where experimentation must be strickly understood and respected by the kid.

                  Like unprotected sex, drugs, eating whatever crap when you are diabetic, crime, ... those area are not open to experimentation. Experimentation there will likely screw up your life far deeper than the little pleasure or "cool factor" they give you now.

                  Off course, using a kind of automated system like here is a bit in contradiction with the fact that those limits must be "understood" as I said before. If your kids don't know there is some danger in that direction, they will find a way to overcome it.
                  On the other hand, that can a usefull tool for kids with specific deseases and avoid stupid mistakes ( e.g. I have a friend critically to eggs and he made some stupid mistake (i.e. not intentionally) while younger )
                • by the phantom ( 107624 ) * on Monday July 31, 2006 @10:34AM (#15817089) Homepage
                  [blockquote]Kids are not stupid , you know .[/blockquote] Yes, they are.

                  Okay, maybe they are not [i]stupid[/i]. They are ignorant, naive, and not fully developed. They have not seen what drugs / uprotected sex / &c. can do to them (or others), and they assume that life won't happen to them. The are immortal and invincible. They are not fully developed adults, and should not be treated as such.

                  Its funny, 10 years ago, I would have agreed with just about everything you said in your post. Let the kids experiment, let them learn right from wrong on their own. Now, I am glad that my parents did set up limits. I recognize that 10 years ago, many of the decisions that I made at the time were pretty fucking boneheaded. I am glad that my parents put limits on what I could do, and that I didn't manage to do more damage to myself than I did. I certainly feel that teenagers should have fewer limits placed upon them than, say, 8 year olds, but that does not change the fact that they are, for the most part (there are always exceptions), not adults, and do not behave as such. xander
            • by Flounder ( 42112 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @04:30AM (#15815669)
              Many kids experiment with drugs in high school, but yet they're not considered 'mature' enough to decide what they want to eat?

              What kind of backwoods logic is this? They're not mature enough to experiment with drugs either. There's a time and a place for that sort of thing. College.

              We're talking about high schoolers here. If they want to buy junk food, then they can get a job and pay for it themselves. This program is about the parents deciding how THEIR money should be spent.

              Raising kids is tough, but if you honestly need to control a high-schooler's diet, you definitely need a little help in the parenting department.

              Why do I get the feeling you don't have kids.

          • by laparel ( 930257 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @05:10AM (#15815753)
            Is it that bad in schools these days that if you let your child choose his own meals he'd end up obese? If it is then the problem is in the school's menu. We are teenagers but that doesn't mean we don't watch our health/well being. Everybody wants to look good and presentable, _especially_ in highschool... Besides, if a kid does ends up on Obese II/III - a real cause of alarm - I doubt it was because of the meals he choose at school. I'd watch out his/her food intake at home.
            • It partly is the fault of the food that they serve in high school. I don't remember the exact prices, but the ratios were close to these... To get a grilled chicken sandwich, possibly the healthiest entree available in the ala-carte line, it cost $1.20; a hamburger or a cheeseburger was $1.00. To get a carton of french fries, it cost $0.60, and an ice cream bar was $0.50. A serving of vegetables was something ridiculous (to us), like $1.50. How many kids going through the ala carte line ever got the veg
      • As long as the kids live at home, the parents should have a say in what the kids eat, what they wear and so on.

        In the words of the Great Sage, Chris Rock, "Just because you can do something don't mean it's meant to be done."

        The majority of fighting and angst by teenagers is definitely caused by their parents, who go batshit crazy trying to prevent... fighting and angst.

        If there's no good reason to monitor what your kid eats (like they are both diabetic and completely devoid of self-control), par
        • Oh, so the kids should be allowed to get fat and develop health problems like diabetes, BEFORE the parents should be allowed to say something?

          Bollocks. Preventing obesity is a good reason to monitor what your kids eat.

          • I understand your concern for the kids... I really do. It is very difficult to watch a kid screw up. However, it is the ability to make mistakes, and deal with freedom, with occasional wisdom that creates adults who are independent and powerful. Our society is so over protected and soft that it is getting scary.
          • All people should be allowed to get fat and develop health problems. Free will's a bitch, 'aint it?

            Article is talking about a high school. These are kids, but they're 14 years old already -- well past the age everyone understands the difference between hamburgers and steamed broccoli.
          • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @04:11AM (#15815603) Homepage
            Isn't it amusing, the parents shouldn't control what their own children eat but corporations are allowed to use mass marketing in every waking moment of a childs life, as well as addictive junk additives in the 'food', to get the children to eat what most of the directors of the junk food companies would not eat themselves or allow their own children to eat. For those who don't think those junk additives are addictive, consider the efforts parents have to go to stop the children eating the crap, hell, a new successful company exists because of it.
            • Controlling is not the same thing as suggesting.
            • by misanthrope101 ( 253915 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @08:12AM (#15816266)
              the parents shouldn't control what their own children eat but corporations are allowed to use mass marketing in every waking moment of a childs life
              Well, yes. "Freedom" today does not extend past the right to be marketed to. If no one can make a buck off of you, then you aren't free. Actually I shouldn't say "today," because this has long been the working definition of freedom. Dictatorship before Castro? No worries. Dictatorship under Castro? Tyranny. Neither China nor Russia are strong on human rights, but you don't hear "tyranny!" anymore, because we're making money off of them, meaning they're as free as they need to be. If corporations are allowed to profit from your existence, then you are by definition free, and if they are not, then you are not free. You can't find many models of freedom with any support today that don't revolve around your right to buy stuff.

              Saying stuff can be restricted, reading stuff can be restricted, the gender of the adult you can marry can be restricted, your movement can be restricted, your access to a fair trial can be restricted, your ability to sue for redress from government wrongs can be restricted, but if any corporation is blocked from marketing to you or in some way making money off of you, then that is the very freedom for which the forefathers fought, and a great wrong has been committed. All other freedoms are really luxuries.

          • But that keeps the problem squarely in the negative. Which pretty much guarantees a failure as children go.

            We should *control* what the kids are *allowed* to eat so as to *prevent* them from becoming obese (as they would, implied, surely become if allowed any measure of influence on their own lives...)

        • The majority of fighting and angst by teenagers is definitely caused by their parents, who go batshit crazy trying to prevent... fighting and angst.

          No, in general, it's caused by the teenager 'rebelling' against their parents ( ala: establishing their own identities ). It has little to do with parents actually.

          You should read more before you make bullshit statements, you could have at least tried to sound a bit more intelligent.

          If there's no good reason to monitor what your kid eats (like they are both d
      • by kfg ( 145172 ) * on Monday July 31, 2006 @04:52AM (#15815715)
        Overprotective? I don't think so. Just common sense.

        Jesus, all of a sudden I'm glad I'm old and don't have to grow up with this crap. Admiral Farragut was given his first command (a prize ship) during the War of 1812 when he was twelve years old. He not only brought the ship to port successfully, but had to put down a threatend armed revolt by the ship's original captain to do it.

        If high school kids today are such kids that they can't even be trusted to buy their own lunch (when many of them are actually old enough to leave home) the only possible reason for it is . . .High School. They've been taught incompetence.

        The "repressed" 50s look like Shangri-fucking-La in comparison.

        • by identity0 ( 77976 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @06:30AM (#15815961) Journal
          Ugh... I have to respond to this utter bull, even though it's late(early?) It's funny how the "skool suks, down wit da man!" bias of Slashdot can mod up even the most ridiculous of posts.

          Are you saying you grew up in the 1800s? Remembering your childhood, are you?

          Saying that we should expect our 12-year olds to command navy ships and that it's a failure of society when they can't is so utterly retarded I don't know where to begin.

          First off, the incident you describe would have been rather unusual back then. I don't think there was an expectation that most 12-year olds would be able to perform such a task. In that era, most of them would have been farm boys who didn't command anything.

          The kids of that era also would have had lunch made by... mom. The fact that kids have to have some written directive from parents to control what they eat only shows the relative freedom kids have in consumer choice, for good or bad. Kids of the 19th century would have had more parental control over their diet, not less.

          You think kids would be supermen or full adults were it not for our evil educational system? Hah. Keep on dreaming.
          • Bullshit (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Moraelin ( 679338 )
            If you think that the human species was always based on babysitting your kid until the age of 21, sad to say, you're the one on the "utter bull" side.

            For starters, for a large portion of the human history (in fact, for _the_ largest portion), the average life expectancy was in the 30 to 40 years range. Yes, literally. The life expectancy in ancient Egypt for example was in the low 30's. In the European middle ages and renaissance it wasn't much better, since they had very high mortality. In fact, all mediev
            • Re:Bullshit (Score:3, Informative)

              For starters, for a large portion of the human history (in fact, for _the_ largest portion), the average life expectancy was in the 30 to 40 years range. Yes, literally. The life expectancy in ancient Egypt for example was in the low 30's. In the European middle ages and renaissance it wasn't much better, since they had very high mortality. In fact, all medieval cities had such high mortality (because of being filthy disease-ridden places) that they needed a constant influx of peasants moving in just to ma
            • Re:Bullshit (Score:3, Insightful)

              there must be something awfully wrong with the current crop of kids. Because "kids" of that age are what throughout most of human history were the _adults_, and perfectly capable of functioning as adults.

              Um, yeah. That was then, this is now.

              The further life expectancy gets pushed back, the further back onset of adulthood will move with it. Maybe when people were lucky to live to 40, it made sense to think of a 14-year-old boy as an adult. Now that people in the first world regularly live to be 80 or 90,
            • Re:Bullshit (Score:3, Insightful)

              Counterpoint: Being an adult today is in some ways a much more complicated affair than being an adult back in the bad ol' days. Not more dangerous, just more complicated.

              How hard was getting married back then? Your parents selected your mate, helped you build your own little shack, and then the two of you might set about running the farm until you both died of dysentery. Or there was a war, in which case your menfolk were handed crude weapons and told to run towards the other menfolk with their crude
        • Now hold on just a minute. (I'm not replying to you personally, but to Slashdot in general.) All these Slashdotters complain that parents should take more responiblity for their kids. They say they should be there to guide them thru the tv landscape and turn off things that are inapporiate. But now, when a parent tries to take some responiblity in their child's life, you complain about that too!
      • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @06:10AM (#15815907) Journal
        You, on the other hand, have too much confidence that the parents won't be control freaks. "Over-protective" doesn't sound that bad until you end up basically in a straitjacket of motherly love that crushes the life and sanity out of you. Don't underestimate how much "over" there can be in "overprotective."

        The last time such a system was discussed on /. it contained such gems as one mother getting horrified and confronting her daughter because... said daughter had bought 3 ounces of juice to wash down the food with. "Noooo! Think of all the calories in 3 ounces of juice!" Not an exact quote, but the same idea.

        To start with the _lesser_ problem, she was trying to raise her daughter as... what? An Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder case? Yes, obesity is bad, but if you're at the point where you count the few calories in a quarter of a cup of juice, do yourself a favour and kill yourself. We're not talking buying a big bottle of Coke, we're not talking even a can, we're talking 3 ounces. Of juice.

        Moving a bit upwards on the scale, such a remotely-controlled kid will grow to be completely unprepared for life. They never were trusted with making a decision of their own, and seeing the results, so they (A) just don't know what to do when mommy isn't around to remote-control them, and (B) completely lack the data to base a decision on. Playing and exploration in childhood are learning. Someone who has grown up with mommy taking all their decisions for them, hasn't learned anything.

        I know I basically went off guidance as every time I was out of reach of my control-freak parents. I ended up in an alcoholic coma in one of the few summer camps where they didn't tag along, as well as doing a thousand other stupid things. Partially because it was one occasion to vent all that built-up frustration of being little more than a remote-controlled puppet to my parents the rest of the time. But in retrospect the largest part was the aspect that I just had no freaking clue how to function without them remote-controlling me.

        Even after finishing college and moving away, it was like running into a brick wall as learning curves go. Without mom telling me what to do and when to do it, I suddenly had no flipping clue what _am_ I supposed to do and when. It took some rediscovering from scratch how to even function as an adult. (In all fairness, mom still tries to remote-control me. She'd be more than happy to still tell me exactly what and when to do, but at that point I had decided to at least try functioning as myself for a change.)

        But maybe more important is the psychological damage. Kids like adults (and like most animals, including your dog and cat) need some breathing space. Even the most affectionate lap cat needs its moments of being alone or doing its own thing, or it will go neurotic.

        E.g., I only have to look at my brother who at one point had a fit of anorexia over my parents complete control over his food. At one point as a kid he just stopped eating, and eventually ended up in hospital. They even ran all sorts of medical tests on him, because they suspected cancer the way he was losing weight. He was basically deflating as fast as, well, someone who doesn't eat at all any more. I can easily see that possibility in the future of such kid as the girl with her 3 ounces of juice.

        I managed to do somewhat better (or at least not swing to such extremes), partially by finding refuge in programming, partially by cherishing the moments I was finally out of my family's reach. I certainly didn't hate school too much. I actually had more freedom there than at home. Still, I ended up with some long term damage of my own anyway.

        E.g., I basically have to roll for willpower (if I'm allowed the D&D metaphor) to do anything, because some circuit in the back of the brain says "you know, mom would disapprove of me doing that. Or doing it that way." And I don't mean doing bad stuff, but even stuff like taking the trash out. Mom would certainly find something to complain
        • Overprotective parents are going to be overprotective, no matter what you do. Hell, I would imagine that the most overprotective parents would pack lunches for their kids, and not pay for school lunches. This is a program that allows parents to have some control over what their money buys in the school lunch program, and can still enable kids to have a choice in what they eat. Certainly, there are overprotective parents that will ruin their children's ability to function in the real world, they they are
          • On another note, people on Slashdot whinge constantly about parents not doing a good job of raising their children. This looks like an example of parents trying to do something about raising their children, yet the reaction is largely negative?! Yay for groupthink.

            And that's just an example of the "if you're for X, then you must be automatically, unthinking pro any X-related solution" fallacy. It's like saying "if you like water, then you shouldn't mind having your house flooded." Or "if you were saying tha

      • My parents controlled what I ate in a very easy and non-technical way. They gave me a bag lunch. Granted, I didn't always eat it, and sometimes I grabbed fast food if I had some extra cash lying around, but most of the time I just ate what was in my lunch. I was a teenager, and didn't have a lot extra money lying around. At least, not money that I wanted to waste on things like food when I could be buying more interesting things. I really don't understand parents who buy lunch for their kids from the s
    • Can't help thinking you're not a parent. Our consumer culture runs with guns blazing towards kids. They're easy targets. To just about any age, but more universally in the young, choices are made on a "what I want now" basis, rather than "what's good for me".

      In England, we're finally cleaning up our school meal system so that kids aren't being fed complete crap. The ideal is to remove all the rubbish from the available choices, but failing that, some way of making sure that our kids are given restricted
      • The ideal is to remove all the rubbish from the available choices, but failing that,

        I don't get it -- why should that fail? Why should a school feed kids rubbish? In an ideal setup there would be no need for moms to monitor what kids eat, because the school wouldn't be feeding them junk. (I live in India and the schools aren't yet MacDonaldised.)

    • If you feel the need to control what your kid eats in high school through a system like this, you've allready failed as a parent.

      Insightful? Okay, let's see some equivalents:

      1. If you feel the need to control what your elected President decides, despite the checks and balances in the political system, then your country has already failed as a Democracy.

      2. If you cannot legally play your DVDs without surrendering your rights, your laws are already screwed up.

      3. If your child can succumb to false advertising,
    • You wouldn't happen to be one of those high school kids who knows everything, would you?

      Fact of the matter is, the older you get, the more you realize you don't know squat.

      Parents can and do help their kids through high school and beyond, whether the kids realize it or not (they'll realize it later on in life).

    • If you feel the need to control what your kid eats in high school through a system like this, you've allready failed as a parent.

      Ah, the same ol' karmawhoring nonsense - you'll get a +5 for certain, and without the effort of thinking.
      Truth is - parents can't catch a break on Slashdot. Monitor your kids? Violating their rights. Don't monitor your kids? You've failed as a parent. etc... etc...
    • If you feel the need to control what your kid eats in high school through a system like this, you've allready failed as a parent.

      That's a very bold statement, but if you can control what your kid eats at home through your supermarket purchases, why can't you do the same when they are at school?

    • If you feel the need to control what your kid eats in high school through a system like this, you've allready failed as a parent.

      Nonsense - if anything it is the 'system', capitalism, the 'free' market if you like, that is not only failing, but betraying us, especially the young, who are not only the most vulnerable. but also our future.

      So how is it the fault of 'the system', you may ask. Simple: the system allows ruthless, predatory companies to market junk food and other unhealthy 'lifestyle items', and t
  • by vga_init ( 589198 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @03:35AM (#15815470) Journal

    "The more you tighten your grip on the galaxy, the more star systems will slip through your fingers!"

    I realize that is not the original text of the quote, but I revised it for clarity. Also, before you mod me offtopic, how many of you won't admit that your parents were like the evil empire? I know mine were.

  • Love and care. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EnsilZah ( 575600 ) <> on Monday July 31, 2006 @03:35AM (#15815471)
    Ah, nothing beats the love and care put into making your child's lunch... ...checklist.
  • klaxons (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slothman32 ( 629113 ) <> on Monday July 31, 2006 @03:35AM (#15815472) Homepage Journal
    When I read "alert" I though of a loud siren.

    I wonder how they know what percentage is trading.
    I doubt the kids are going to be cooperative enough to get a valid value.

    What would be good is "dessert credits."
    When you buy enopugh good stuff you can get same bad as well.
    Well unless you are in Arizona then "desert credits" might be reasonable.
  • by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @03:36AM (#15815473) Homepage
    When your in school, you're already bound by what you can and can't say, write, hear and wear. That said, why not just serve only HEATHY food in the first place!!! Now that would be something worthy of enforcing.

    The amount of porkers I see in the malls these days scare me! Their shit diet is going to cost society massive amounts in health care!
    • Obviously the "right" to be stupid will eventually cause our entire civilization to collapse eventually.... we should never have locked up the tigers....
    • Their shit diet is going to cost society massive amounts in health care!

      Thats OK. Considering they're probably paying a buck-fifty for the shit that they eat, they'll surely have a lot of money left over for their healthcare.

    • When your in school, you're already bound by what you can and can't say, write, hear and wear. That said, why not just serve only HEATHY food in the first place!!!

      You have made a serious logical error here.

      Situation A exists
      Therefore, A is correct
  • by jkrise ( 535370 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @03:44AM (#15815498) Journal
    Too much is made about child's rights and too little is spoken about dubious advertising for unhealthy food items. In Japan, there is a huge promotional campaign to get kids eat Whale Meat for Lunch!

    Obesity in kids is the no. 1 health problem facing the US today, and if parents can have a say on what their kids can order, it's great! The choice is between listening to one's parents and listening to (untrulthful) advertisemsnts. Parents ought to know better.

    As usual, the title Big Mother is misleading and mischevous. Parents watching their children cannot be equated to the Government spying on citizens. The former is a duty, the latter is a violation of rights to privacy.

    Too bad, Slashdot is resorting to Flamebait to ensure more replies.
    • I agree with your problem-description, though not with the solution.

      True. Obesity is a serious health-problem. Quite likely the combination of overweigth and too little physical exersize is the number one health-problem facing America today (and the next generation even more).

      Thing is, I do not think you can teach someone to eat healthy and exersize enough by behaving like a control-freak. Kids can and will rebel against such, and even if you *do* manage to force your 12-year old to do as you demand, yo

  • Great, another tax (Score:5, Insightful)

    by voice_of_all_reason ( 926702 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @03:45AM (#15815505)
    MealpayPlus doesn't charge for its system; it makes money on transaction fees when parents put money on kids' accounts.

    If this is like some offices, you can't pay in case (article doesn't specify). Approach the counter without a card and you're just met by a queer look from the cashier.

    The site says it's a flat $2.00 fee per transactions. Now you're torn between a 1% tax to give the kid a whopping $200 on the card (max) or a 10% tax if you just give them a benjamin every few days.
  • by ChaseTec ( 447725 ) <> on Monday July 31, 2006 @03:47AM (#15815514) Homepage
    Bill Thompson, the only kid at Deerbrook High School still granted pizza privileges, has become the youngest person ever to retire at age 17.
  • But over here (Australia) its Jam, not Jelly and when i tell people about my secret love, they look at me very funny. I havn't had it in ages, because i dont eat a lot of sugary fatty stuff anymore, appart from the 12 donuts, 2 blocks of chockolate and box of musli fruity things i ate over thursday, friday and saterday!

    PB&J rules!
  • by Max Romantschuk ( 132276 ) <> on Monday July 31, 2006 @03:56AM (#15815549) Homepage
    In Finland school lunches are free. Not only are they free, but kids get a healthy meal including fresh vegetables and often fruit every single day, bread and milk is included as well. Everyone eats the same meal, including the teachers. The only exceptions are people with allergies / ethic issues (vegetarians etc). You're free not to eat if you don't like the food, of course.

    I strongly believe that good eating habits at an early age is paramount for learning a healthy lifestyle. One can have many opinions of socialistic solutions, but when it comes to nutrition and education I'm all for it. Having seen the muck english school kids have to eat I'm rather grateful I was born in Finland.

    My 2 cents, anyway.
    • The same is true across most of Japan, up until high school. In high school, kids start bringing their lunches, which are generally quite healthy (rice, pickled veggies, a little fish or meat, maybe a little fruit for dessert is normal), and, usually, prepared by their mothers. It's a real shame the amount of power the food companies have gained in America, but it parallels the general long leash allowed corporate power in the US ('self-regulation' being a popular and ineffectual 'compromise' between thos
    • One can have many opinions of socialistic solutions, but when it comes to nutrition and education I'm all for it.

      Another Finn here, happily paying taxes right now so the next kid can get the free education and healthy meals I got when I was in his place. I'm all for free markets, but seven-year-olds haven't had a chance to work for the money to pay for their education and having rich parents is not a choice.
  • The solution (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Antony-Kyre ( 807195 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @03:57AM (#15815555)
    The solution is for schools to serve only health food as determined by a qualified nutritionist. However, states, or better yet, the federal government, needs to throw more money at making school lunches healthier. In fact, why not make it so school lunches are 100% free, limit one per student per day, if all the food there is healthy.

    As for soda in schools, charge more (like $1 to $1.25 per 12 oz can). Plus, the caffeine can be beneficial in my opinion.
    • Re:The solution (Score:3, Insightful)

      by greenhide ( 597777 )
      In fact, why not make it so school lunches are 100% free, limit one per student per day, if all the food there is healthy.

      Two reasons:
      1. It's more expensive to make and sell healthy food, and the profit margins are lower. A pound of french fries costs a lot less to prepare than the equivalent amount of brocolli, but kids would probably pay more for the fries than the broccoli. In the US at least, so long as education in general is underfunded I don't see funds being expanded into school food offerings. In fact
  • Good for kids? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nbannerman ( 974715 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @03:57AM (#15815556)
    Y'know, some of these kind of practices produce some surprising results in the real world. Whilst you or I probably look on slightly bemused, this kind of behaviour in schools can produce some interesting quirks.

    Here in the UK, there has been a similar kind of healthy food drive. Although parents are not given the levels of oversight seen here, fast food and vending machines are quickly becoming dirty words.

    However, in some cases children are fighting back in rather funny ways. In one school (I'd find the link if I wasn't late for work!) a group of children started buying snacks, cans of fizzy drink and chocolate from a local wholesaler, and then sold them on to children during break time and lunch.

    Expect to see something similar happen here; and make a note of the kids that start doing it, because they might just be the kind of people we see doing well in the business world in a few years time. Of course, it'll cause this prepay system to fall apart and be branded a failure as well, which is probably no bad thing.
  • by Loligo ( 12021 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @03:59AM (#15815561) Homepage

    I hear so many people talk about how Americans eat too much, how kids are too fat, and how it's always the parents' fault if a kid is fat.

    Now here's a way for parents to control what their kids eat, and people are screaming about how it's invasive and controlling.

    Screw you guys. If you're gonna play two sides of an issue, at least seperate it by a few degress, don't sit here and say how it's wrong for parents to let their kids eat crap and then say it's wrong for parents to NOT let their kids eat crap.


    • This is more of a way for parents to delegate their responsibility by spending a little cash. Sort-of how we delegate our lawn mowing to day laborers instead of doing it ourselves, soon we'll be able to delegate our parenting to the state.
  • Italian way! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cavallo71 ( 144715 )
    We had NO junk food in italy at school
    up to university (included).

    It really was cheap and healty way to feed kids:
    they gave you simple food that was properly cooked.

    I live in uk and I've been in the States and now
    I'm more than proud of this way.

  • Pathetic. (Score:2, Informative)

    I'm 18, so my experience with school cafeterias is still fresh in my memory. I can tell you this: almost every 12-16 year old likes at least one kind of fast food. AND? Fast food means burgers, pizza, and chips, right?
    You can't stop them from eating it. They love the stuff. Hell, I know I like it.
    The fact is, if your food is COOKED PROPERLY you can get most of the grease and fat OUT of said dishes. You can also reduce the portion, and serve it with healthy food - even INSIDE it. Tomato slices are definitely
  • I *am* a parent... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by slippyblade ( 962288 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @04:18AM (#15815626) Homepage
    And am whole-heartedly offended by a lot of these comments. This program is yet another level of abstraction between parenting and the children.

    I have raised my kids, taught them right from wrong. I am also smart enough to realize that my kids are not idiots. They are not stupid and will find ways around things they don't understand or agree with... Just like I did as a child. When that happens, all you can do as a parent is hope you instilled the proper morals into the child.

    I'm sorry, it is NOT up to the lunch lady to determine what my kids eat. If I am that concerned about what my children eat at school, I'll make it myself! At one school they attended, this is exactly what I did. "Some parents don't have time for that!", you might say... Bullshit. If you have the time to screw around and have kids, you MAKE THE DAMN TIME to raise them. It's called parenting.

    This shit ranks right up there with Net-Nanny type things. If you mistrust your children to these kinds of extents, then you have failed as a parent and nothing can fix this. More and more the definition of "children" is getting pushed further up the age curve. This lunch program is in High-Schools for crying out loud. Kids who have their driver's licenses and are nearly the age of majority, yet they can't pick their own lunches? Um, yeah. That makes sense.

    I could rant on, but I'm tired. Night.
  • Peer Pressure (Score:2, Informative)

    Disclaimer: I am 17 years of age and have just recently finished my grade 12.

    First off, I would like to say that I enjoy the (mis)use of technology to help students in what they eat. However, this is not going to stop them. I am definately not fat or over weight, and I try to eat healthy as often as I can. I cook my own meals, so sometimes I like to relax and just grab a burger... but only once in a while! Although, I am not the greatest role model, as I do sit around on the computer a little too much. ;
  • Why are schools not providing their pupils with healthy food to begin with? If the halls are filled with vending machines, and you serve burgers, pizza & fries everyday, is it a wonder that some kids turn out to be fat fucks?

    Personally I think parents have the right to restrict what foods their kids eat (through this system if need be), but I believe the system is the best of a bad situation. In fact, I bet the Coca-Cola's of this world would endorse the system since it means they can still sell their

  • "Moms"? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BarryNorton ( 778694 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @04:36AM (#15815683)
    Fathers can't participate in this process then?
  • There is no obesity problem.

    The truth is, there are skinny six-year-olds who think they are too fat, and Anorexia Nervosa has been diagnosed in boys.

    What there is, however, is a government desperately angling to slap a tax on food.

    This talk of an "obesity epidemic" is a blatant attempt to whip up the Daily Mail readers {none of whom personally know anybody who is over- or underweight, and would not consider it a problem if they did, but they do see images of overweight people, who clearly have less m
    • I'm sorry but that's just not true, there is an obesity epidemic in this country.

      the sunshine vacation states like cali and florida have a larger quantity of thin people, but you live someplace like texas, or georgia, or michigan, there are tons of fat flabby bastards walking around, they make up 60% or more of the population, and just looking at them damages your eyes and makes you scream in pain.
      I want to see this tackled, if for no other reason than to see more thin women rather than houses and cars with
  • by foniksonik ( 573572 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @04:51AM (#15815713) Homepage Journal
    Even in High School. If you're a parent and you eat junk or have junk in your home, ie: buy it for your kids or have it around for 'snacking' then you're responsible for your child's bad eating habits. You want your kids to eat right? Keep good healthy food in your home...

    Fresh vegetables and fruit.... once a week buy fresh stuff and put it out where it can be seen... fruits in a bowl and vegetables on display, both in fridge and on counter in a nice container or basket. Pre-make good salads... don't keep them in the pre-mixed bag you buy them in.. put them in a nice salad bowl that has a freshness feature (clay to keep moist but also has holes in bottom and sides to let extra moisture out... and add in some extras, carrot slivers, almonds, cranberries, etc. make them look tasty... if you eat meat add some hard-boiled egg white slices and turkey chunks

    Make good meals and stick them in the fridge as instant left-overs. These will be cheaper and better than a frozen dinner (less preservatives, etc.) and your teen will actually eat them, cause they can grab them late at night or whenever and heat them up on their own schedule, instead of grabbing a bag of chips or something.

    Easy pre-made meals: Lasagna or any Pasta dish, Stir-Fry, Burritos, Taco ingredients, Pre-made sandwiches and wraps, Roasts that can be sliced into cold-cuts (teen-age boys love cutting stuff and they'll just slice off a hunk and grab some cheese and bread), hard-boiled eggs (peeled or not), sliced up veggies (carrot sticks, cucumbers, brockley, etc.) with a good dip (humus or veggie/cream cheese is great).

    This might not sound like health-food but compared to the crap they'd stuff their faces with (think any fast-food or junk from convenience store) it's completely healthy and they'll eat it if it's made convenient for them.

    In the end you'll find that they will end up looking for similar foods when they are out of the house too. They might even end up taking their lunches to school because the food that's available at home is so much better than the crap at school... but let them keep their 'lunch money' as a reward or else they'll stop taking their lunch just to get the money so they can spend it on other things... who cares what,

    Point is they'll be healthier and it will only take a few hours a week on your part to make the food available in a appetizing form that's also convenient.

    BTW same thing applies to drinks... get rid of the canned sodas.. just put some pitchers of old-fahioned lemonade (cut the sugar down) and Iced tea and juice and plenty of water bottles.

    They'll still have some junk in their diet when out with friends but they won't be creating a habit while at home and the reality is that we all really spend the longest part of our 24 hour day at home... so make it a healthy one and you'll have healthy kids.

  • Just Say No? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by greenhide ( 597777 ) <{moc.ylkeewellivc} {ta} {todhsalsnadroj}> on Monday July 31, 2006 @06:35AM (#15815975)
    I'd say the problem is they're treating this as a supply problem rather than a demand problem: if you deny them the bad food, then they'll eat healthier.

    But kids, especially resourceful high school kids, will figure out a way to get the food they want to eat. This is a demand problem. You need to focus on changing how kids feel about eating healthy food.

    It's up to parents to raise their kids from an early age to enjoy food that's good for them. I know so many people may age or younger who don't care for vegetables, only like white bread, and think of fries as a vegetable.

    From a young age, my parents forced healthy food on me. Although occasionally I was miserable and felt deprived, most of the time I greatly enjoyed the food I ate despite being "healthy".

    In a sense, this is a supply problem being tackled too late. You need to have your house stocked with healthy food at an early age when the child is developing their food preferences, *not* when they're already in high school and set in their ways.

    It's a shame that these parents are waiting until middle or high school to control their kids in this way. It suggests a lack of trust, and it also suggests that if the kid is unwilling or unlikely to make healthy food choices voluntarily.

    Probably the best step would be to limit their budget for school food, but let them get whatever they want. Instead, focus on getting them to have a larger breakfast before they leave, and a larger dinner when they get home, minimizing the food they eat at school. Parents can easily control the food available at home so long as the child doesn't yet have the funds or wherewithal to do their own grocery shopping.

    In a sense, this is what happened to me. Years of candy deprivation means it was the first thing I went for when I had my own spending money in high school. But because my funds were limited (around $5-6 per week or so, I think) I had to make my own lunch at home, and used all my money on candy or soft drinks. When I got home, there generally weren't easy snacks available, and we didn't have much in the way of frozen dinners (or a microwave), so I was forced to cook something for myself if I wanted to eat something before dinner (and on nights when my parents were busy, I'd have to cook dinenr). This had two benefits: one, it meant that I was eating food that was relatively healthy (at worst, "fast food" meant opening a can of vegetable soup) and two that I was learning to cook, something which is not encouraged enough I think.

    Sorry this comment is so long but I did not have time to write a shorter one.
  • by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @06:51AM (#15816027) Homepage
    Then maybe the answer is making healthy lunches enjoyable.

    Kids have different tastes than adults, most of us are well-aware our own taste has changed over the years. Fast food chains get it, why can't the people who make healthy food understand this simple fact and start preparing meals the way kids would actually like them. Yes, that may mean adding a bit more fat or sugar than "none", but atleast it would be a lot better than what they buy now.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @07:01AM (#15816053)
    Face it. No law parents set up a child does not understand will be broken. Period. That starts with "don't go to construction sites" (without giving a reason why not to) and does not even end at "you won't go out with Jonny Sleazebag". Kids break through Net Nanny, they sneak out while under house arrest, they disable parental control on the remote.

    Why should something like this work? Kids will trade their lunch with kids who can buy "normal" food, or they will pay those kids who do (and get ripped off too). Kids will leave school for some burger restaurant during lunch break, and if that isn't allowed, they will sneak out. Oh, the threat of being suspended? Hell, where do I sign to be thrown out of school!

    Face it parents: You can't force your kids to do what they don't understand. Also, it's kinda hard to understand for Jonny why he should eat his broccoly and drink his healthy water while mom and dad are guzzling down greaseballs with root beer.
  • by Diamon ( 13013 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @07:47AM (#15816173)
    We had a similar system when I was in school ages ago, it was called carrying your lunch. Mom got to choose what you ate. If you couldn't find a trade you either ate what you had or did without.
  • by Secrity ( 742221 ) on Monday July 31, 2006 @08:15AM (#15816274)
    There is another dynamic; high school age kids who either work after school and have access to their own money or have very generous allowances and can buy their own lunch and bring it to school.

    I think that it might be interesting to have a study of four groups of high school kids:

    Group One -- has the resources to buy what they want to for lunch and bring it to school

    Group Two -- doesn't have the resources to buy their own lunches, and their moms tell the school what they can buy for lunch

    Group Three -- doesn't have the resources to buy their own lunches and their moms don't tell the school what they can buy for lunch

    Group Four -- doesn't have the resources to buy their own lunches and their moms pack their lunch

    Groups Two and Three assume that school lunches are prepaid by the parents and/or the government

    What is the difference in the nutrition in the lunches that the kids in these four groups actually consume?

    Ten years after high school graduation, which group produced the healthiest adults?, the happiest adults?

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!