Monday, May 30, 2005

Big Brother is watching you, and wants your dessert

Do you know what your child eats for lunch at school? Do you care? Big Brother may soon give you the opportunity to stay right on top of that topic with a program that lets you electronically prepay your kids' lunch bill, and then see what he or she gets for it. Even items bought with hoarded change will show up, so there's no hiding that jumbo cookie or extra Snapple from Mom and Dad. I've been moderating a lunch-hour book club at my daughter's school for the past couple of years, so I've seen what sort of a la carte combos kid come up with; one boy routinely bought a lunch consisting of two or three pieces of cake. And I'll admit, it would be interesting to see just how many times a week my daughter eats pizza. But I can also see a few flaws in the system. For one thing, unless it tells you how much of what your child paid for he or she actually ate, you're still not getting a good idea of how much balanced nutrition is going on. And I've got to believe that it won't take long for the kids whose parents either don't participate in the plan or don't care what they buy to set up a pretty brisk business in ordering goodies for their friends. Where there's a will to eat a jumbo cookie, there's a way.

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