The Skirmish Over Junk Food

Meet MeMe Roth. She is at war with the birthday cake and the living incarnation of why you are so psyched not to be a school administrator in Manhattan. This mother of two, who sends her children, ages 10 and 7, to P.S. 9 on the Upper West Side, is also the president of National Action Against Obesity ("a one-woman campaign run out of Roth's home in Manhattan," according to the Guardian, which recently profiled Roth in a piece strongly suggesting she has an eating disorder.) As such, Me!Me! feels, uhm, passionately about protecting children, particularly her own, from obesity and all its associated health risks. In short, she is a terror.

What does Roth think of parents who are deranged enough to bring, gasp, cupcakes to school on their child’s birthday? "I thought I was sending my kid to P.S. 9, not Chuck E. Cheese." The gym teacher who let the students have a donut that one time? "Couldn't pass a standardized phys ed. test." Bagels and Pringles? Roth tried to have them removed from the lunch menu. Sprinkles and syrup for ice cream? The cops had to be called to a YMCA in 2007 because Roth made off with them. Juice pops handed out on a hot day? Roth's daughter needs to deposit hers in her "junk food collector."

The juice pop position recently resulted in an actual showdown with the school administrators. Roth's daughter's teacher told her she could either eat the pop or throw it out, but not deposit it in a Tupperware to melt all day. Roth was infuriated, sent an email to the school and eventually sat down with school administrators who suggested, in a totally brilliant, Kafkaesque turn, that "if [The Roths] considered the regular dissemination of junk food a threat to their children's health and safety—and indeed, they do—they should request a health and safety transfer, something that generally follows threats of violence. That transfer request, they were told, would also require filing a complaint with the police." Somehow, even the Roths understand filing a complaint to the police about cupcakes, when there are students dealing with the threat of gun and knife violence, would be laughable. And so, the birthday cake war continues.

Mother's Fight Against Junk Food Puts a School on Edge [NYT]
The woman who hates food [Guardian]