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Big Brother Is Watching Texas School Kids In The Lunchroom

Big Brother Is Watching Texas School Kids In The Lunchroom

High-tech cameras installed in San Antonio, Texas elementary school lunchrooms will be photographing what food students pile onto their trays and what they don’t finish eating.

According to CBS News, digital imaging analysis of the snapshots will then calculate how many calories each student scarfed down. Local health officials said the program, funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant, is the first of its kind in a U.S. school and will be so precise that the technology can identify a half-eaten pear left on a lunch tray.

A $2 Million Project To Film Elementary School Lunchrooms

That’s the idea behind this $2 million project, funded from a grant from the USDA which will fund the study for four years. Five San Antonio elementary schools will take part in the program. Researchers selected poor, minority campuses where obesity rates and students at risk for diabetes are higher.

Parents To Receive Regular Reports On What Their Kids Are Eating

From Fox News:

“This is very sophisticated,” said Dr. Roberto Trevino, director of the San Antonio-based Social & Health Research Center, which will oversee the program.

Parents will be required to give consent for their children to participate, and receive regular reports showing what foods their kids are filling up on at lunch. Trevino said only the trays, and not students, will be photographed.

Here’s how it works: students are assigned lunch trays with a unique bar code. After the children load up their plates down the line — mashed potatoes or green beans? french fries or fruit? — a camera above the cashier takes a picture of each tray.

When lunch is over and the kids return their plates to the kitchen, another camera takes a snapshot of what’s left on the tray. Software then analyzes the before and after photos to calculate calories consumed and, according to Trevino, a report of nutrients in the foods.

A $2 Million Project To Make Movies Of Kids’ Lunchtime Habits?

Researchers are hoping that parents will change eating habits at home once they see what their kids are choosing in schools. The data also will be used to study what foods children are likely to choose and how much of it they’re eating.

Certainly, the idea of changing eating habits for the better is a good one, but a $2 million project to make movies of what kids eat at school?

Is This A Good Use Of Taxpayer Dollars?

What do you think? Is this just a colossal waste of dollars? Or a good way to raise awareness of the importance of good nutrition habits?

 

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Photo Credit: iStock

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86 comments

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7:45PM PDT on Jul 14, 2011

COULD NYS GET SOME OF THE EXCESS MONEY TX SEEMS TO HAVE?

1:57AM PDT on May 20, 2011

yes yes

10:22PM PDT on May 17, 2011

Good grief, give lunch ladies clipboards to check off what's getting thrown away, and give ALL the kids much healthier meals, including vegetables and fruit! If it's not on their plate, they don't even have the opportunity to try it! Yeah, "sophisticated"...and also entirely unnecessary, creepy, and totally impersonal, when a real live person keeping notes could also TALK to kids about better eating choices.

5:59AM PDT on May 17, 2011

Noted

4:37AM PDT on May 16, 2011

Most people know what they (and their children) should be eating, if they are not doing it already then pointing out what their children are doing wrong will not help. What happens next, do we start fining those parents who don't comply? This money could surely be spent to greater affect.

8:22PM PDT on May 15, 2011

This would be a great idea if parents would pay attention! In this poor population do they have alternatives? Maybe a program to help parents buy and prepare easy, cheap and nutritious meals would help more. The eating habits are made at home. Education should be to ALL family members. Also, kids should ONLY get good nutritional food in the lunchroom, and in school vending machines. Then theyt would have to eat in a more healthy way.

6:40PM PDT on May 15, 2011

This is the future with the growing population something needs to be about alot of things......just that alot of people that live inside a box dont really understand. It has nothing to do with being american or not...it is one school only and is a harmless little project I think. Pretty sure there were forms of consent present. Its also a matter of what was eaten and by who and how much....its culture and nationality have different eating habits as everyone is aware and dont entirely eat the same thing.

11:18AM PDT on May 15, 2011

The way you headlined the piece and your concluding comments made it clear how you feel and will tilt how your readers feel. Why bother with the vote?

7:43AM PDT on May 15, 2011

I think that a better, non-intrusive, way to collect data about school children's eating habits would be to volutarily poll them. The only benefit to installing cameras would be to curb inappropiate conduct by people, namely cafeteria monitors whom can quite frankly be nasty.

7:13AM PDT on May 15, 2011

i think money could be spent elsewhere.

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