The breakfast table is the latest battleground in the war against the family. School-based breakfast programs have been tried at the local level for years, and the idea goes back at least as far as the Black Panthers in the 1960’s. The big push now is for a national program.

Last year, a federally subsidized breakfast program was tried in selected school districts, and social service advocates want to extend the benefits to all schoolchildren nationwide. The objective sounds harmless—helping the indigent to feed their children, insuring that children get nutritionally balanced meals—but in providing meals the government is taking away a vital family function.

The government already compels families to send their children to schools; for most of us that means public schools, particularly schools that are far enough away from the children’s neighborhood to insure racial diversity. Now, government—federal, state, and local—will undertake to provide breakfasts as well. If nutritional equality were the objective, government could give money to parents to buy the meals and trust them to serve the food at home. Instead, it will bypass parents and the home altogether and feed children directly with a standardized ration of whatever food in whatever quantities it considers in “our best interest.”

The result is schools that are really surrogate homes. After a school breakfast, school lunch, and a few hours in the classroom studying AIDS, condom use, and Third World literatures, many children even attend a government daycare center in their school’s gymnasium or cafeteria. Of course, any students who are pregnant or feeling “depressed” or “abused” need never return home; the school’s government counselor will be happy to arrange for both short- and long-term lodging away from the “abusive environment,” or even to arrange for an abortion—all at public expense and without the consent and knowledge of the parents.

This is not fantasy, but America 1993. Parents’ greatest responsibility today may be to dress their children before turning them over to the state, but even this duty may well go the way of the others. After all, soldiers and prisoners wear government issue, and who else but soldiers and prisoners line up for their morning chow?