Except that this story is complete bull:
For starters, the context in which all of this occurred was a public school pre-K program run by the state popularly known as “More at Four,” but now called the generic name “NC Pre-K.” In order to have a child enrolled in this program, which has a limited number of slots, the parents must actively choose to enroll, with priority going to “at-risk” children, to wit: special needs children and (importantly) low-income children. Indeed, to even be eligible for the program, the child must either fit in one of those two categories or have a parent on (or about to be called on) active military duty. Enrollment as an “at-risk” child means that the child’s enrollment is fully subsidized by the state, regardless of whether the day care is private or public.These facts are critical because the “state agent” in this story turns out to be nothing more than a researcher from a program that grades the performance of pre-schools and operates out of the FPG Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It also does not appear that this institute has any actual authority other than to provide assessments, which the state then uses in making licensing decisions and in setting the fees it will pay the day care provider for subsidized care.
Notably, as the second-linked story above suggests, the mother’s main gripe here does not even appear to be with this “state agent,” but instead with the school’s teachers, who continue to give the girl milk and vegetables despite letters from the mother asking them not to. Indeed, the notion that this “state agent” was going around inspecting every single lunch box brought to the school does not appear to have much basis, as the agent apparently ordered full school lunches for every single child in this program and (see update) was evaluating the school’s compliance with standards, not individual parents’ compliance. Even if he was doing such an inspection, there’s a pretty obvious context-specific reason for it: this is an opt-in program for parents who largely can’t afford to provide fully balanced meals.
Her other major gripe appears to be that she is worried about being charged for the additional food being placed in front of her daughter based on a letter from the school purportedly saying that kids who did not bring a healthy lunch would be offered supplements and that parents “may” be charged for the supplemented portions. However, as the second-linked story makes clear, no such charges have been issued nor apparently was there any actual chance that such charges would be issued.
The original story’s claim that the relevant regulation applies to all pre-schools is also false – to the contrary, it applies only to pre-schools choosing to participate in (and eligible for) the subsidized program.
The original story further obscures that in no circumstance was this child – or any child, for that matter – being forced to eat the school-provided lunch, nor was this child -or any other child – deprived of her boxed lunch. Instead, as the second linked story acknowledges, the child was just provided with additional food and given the option to consume that in addition to her boxed lunch. In other words, the claim that the school “replaced” this girl’s turkey sandwich, banana, apple, potato chips, and juice with chicken nuggets is totally bogus.
By and large, what this story boils down to is that a low-income child whose tuition is fully subsidized by the state under a program her mother opted into was offered some additional food to supplement the boxed lunch she brought from home. This option was provided not because of some overarching, generally applicable law or regulation, but because the program in which her mother and school voluntarily participate requires such an option be available. The mother apparently objects to this option being provided to her daughter, not because of any health concerns or the like, but because she incorrectly believes that she will be charged additional money for her child being provided this option. Since she won’t in fact be charged for this and there is no evidence she was ever going to be charged for it, there is absolutely no harm actually being done to her or her child.
The parent and child voluntarily entered this special program.
The home lunch was deemed not nutritious (not by the USDA, by the way) and was given extra food. She was not forced to give up her own lunch, and she was certainly not forced to eat what they gave her.
[*]She wasn’t charged for the extra food.
[/LIST]Source: A North Carolina Non-Troversy?
So still no. No one is forcing school lunches on anyone.