The director of the state Division of Childhood Development and Early Education was asked to tell a legislative panel just what happened at West Hoke Elementary School when, as explained in a previous Civitas article, students were forced to eat school food though they had homemade lunches. Dr. Deborah Cassidy repeated the assertion no state official was involved when the students were given a full tray of cafeteria food. Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services co-chair Rep. Justin Burr (R-Stanly) asked Cassidy if the state had tried to ask local school officials about the incident since the division enforces nutrition rules. Dr. Cassidy said the school principal won’t return her phone calls. Burr was surprised.
One of the students had a homemade lunch with a turkey and cheese sandwich but ate a few chicken nuggets from the school cafeteria instead after she was told her bag lunch didn’t meet standards. Dr. Cassidy was caught off guard when the other committee co-chair Sen. Louis Pate (R-Wayne) asked about that.
Lawmakers are working on legislation that would allow parents to decide what their children should eat at school. Current regulations allow exceptions only for ethnic, cultural or religious reasons.