On his quest to get New York City residents skinny, Mayor Bloomberg is once again saying, no more food for you. This time it’s to low-income kids who he wants to prevent from eating too much breakfast at school–because, you know, fat kids are more of a concern than hungry ones.
Bloomberg is on a roll with wanting to single-handedly erase our fatness. First it was his initiative to ban large sodas, then he opposed donating food to homeless shelters because they couldn’t monitor how much sodium was in that food. And now he wants to prohibit more kids from having access to breakfast at school.
Bloomberg has opposed a new policy that aims to provide breakfast in the classroom at all NYC public schools. According to Lauren Passalacqua, a spokeswoman for the mayor, they are against in-classroom breakfasts citywide because of fears it will increase childhood obesity:
We want to make sure that no child is hungry and every child has a healthy breakfast. At the same time obesity is epidemic nationwide, and 40% of the city’s public school children are either overweight or obese, so we are appropriately concerned in making sure that our work to solve one problem doesn’t inadvertently exacerbate the other.
And Thomas Farley, commissioner of the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene added that breakfast in the classroom could lead to some students eating two breakfasts:
We have a problem in obesity in children. I am concerned that if we have breakfast in every classroom, that that could contribute to the problem and possibly make it worse.
Granted, NYC public schools do offer free breakfast to all 1.1 million students in school cafeterias each day. But advocates of the in-classroom policy said they could feed more hungry children if it provided breakfast in every classroom, rather than merely making it available in the cafeteria.
Luckily, not everyone is opposed to this like Bloomberg is. The New York City Council plans to meet today and demand that Bloomberg’s administration provide these free breakfasts in every classroom.
As Council Member Stephen Levin put it, it’s unthinkable that some kids don’t have enough to eat:
We can’t stand by, year after year, and be among the worst in the country in making sure our kids have access to nutritional food in the morning. It’s an injustice for our kids to go to school and sit throughout the school day hungry when they could be fed with federal dollars.
And he makes a very valid point.
Every day, children in the U.S. wake up hungry and go to school hungry. In fact, as many as 17 million children nationwide are struggling with what’s known as food insecurity. That means, one in four children in our country is living without consistent access to enough nutritious food to live a healthy life. And the consequences of this malnutrition can be severe, affecting cognitive development, school performance, more frequent sickness and higher healthcare costs.
The risks of providing a healthy breakfast to every child certainly outweigh the benefits. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Children need this to perform better in school and feel better physically and mentally. And so what if a child eats two breakfasts? A city study found that those kids who eat breakfast in the classroom consumed just 90 more calories a day than those not in the program. Hardly an amount that will make a child obese.
But hey, if Bloomberg is that obsessed with childhood obesity, how about enforcing daily P.E. at all schools instead of trying to control what everyone puts in their mouths?
Photo: msnbc.msn.com (altered by Blisstree)