The administrator arrived at the door, flanked by a truancy officer holding a clipboard and a stack of papers.
“We haven’t seen your child at the local cafeteria for all year. We sent you notices and now we need to see you in court,” the officer explained.
“I’ve been feeding her at home,” the mother said.
“We received your waiver, but we have reason to believe your child isn’t receiving three quality meals every day. Rumor has it you’ve been doing six smaller meals and none of them involve meat,” the administrator said.
“We’re vegetarian,” she said.
“Your personal beliefs do not preclude your child’s need for a well-balanced diet. Your daughter needs protein and nothing will replace a hunk of animal flesh. Nothing. Indeed, according to the tests, your daughter does not even understand food,” he said.
“I fail to understand why you would think that she doesn’t understand food. She has seen food from the seed to the table. That seems like a pretty holistic understanding of food to me,” the mother said.
“These are your daughter’s test scores. Falls Far Below. Your daughter hasn’t even seen the Food Guide Pyramid.”
“Pyramids are for housing dead people. Do we really want to associate food with that? Besides, that’s an antiquated way of viewing diet. Real science is much more complex. The Federal government doesn’t even use the pyramid anymore,” the mother said.
The administrator shrugged his shoulders. “It’s on the test, is it not? Someone gets paid big bucks to ensure that the test questions are valid and reliable.”
“Yes, but every question was about boxed food and hot dogs and . . .”
“We can’t have regional flavor or ethnic food. That would make the test biased. They chose food that most kids across the nation eat,” the administrator added.
“So, my kids have to pass a test that has nothing to do with what we actually eat at home or what is actually natural, healthy and appropriate to eat?”
The administrator cleared his throat, “We also looked at your food receipts. You aren’t buying enough food. We worry about her diet.”
“Go look at her. She’s healthy,” the mother said.
The administrator shook his head, “You may feel that way, but you have no data to back it up. You aren’t a trained culinary professional. Your daughter isn’t getting enough to eat.”
“We have a garden, a huge garden, and much of what we eat comes from our . . .”
“From your non-FDA-approved plants and vegetables,” the administrator said. The police officer added, “Better make sure this place is zoned and licensed for farming.”
“My daughter is doing just fine,” the mother said.
“Can I just level with you as a father? My own kids go to the cafeteria three times a day and they are great. It’s a great method of socialization. They sit in rows and eat the same meals on the same trays and, sure, they complain that the food is boring, but it’s a shared experience. Don’t you think your child is missing out?”
“She plays with kids in sports. She plays in the neighborhood. We share meals with other parents who opt-out of the cafeteria.”
“But this is free,” the administrator said.
“It may look free, but the costs are more than I’m willing to pay,” the mother said as the police officer handed her the court summons.