Re: Guest Post - EBT and WIC

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I didn't find that EBT rule, but there's a link to a question about alternative ways to cover the preventive services under the affordable care act.


Posted by: Bostoniiangirl | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 5:49 AM
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I don't know about the EBT/WIC stuff and will look at the links, though I just realized that if we take in a younger kid (which we almost did last night, though luckily he was able to be placed with siblings) I'll have to deal with WIC again.

Our school district got a grant to offer free breakfast and free lunch to all students, many of whom already qualified but not all of whom were getting it. The middle school principal realized quickly that kids were choosing to sleep in or stand around outside (there's a lot of morning basketball there) rather than come in to eat, so he bought a tv with his own money and announced that the student who's eaten breakfast most often will win it at the end of the year. Participation is way up and I would be really surprised if test scores don't go up too.

We had to intervene with Nia, who would rather socialize than eat, in part because she'd decided that she'd rather get to the cafeteria as it was closing and be given a pop tart and fruit to take to class her first class. So now she eats a piece of pop tart and some fruit on the way to school and then is expected to eat the school breakfast once she gets there.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 5:51 AM
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Here is the comment where I wrote out what was on one of Mara's WIC coupons. I believe our state still uses paper coupons. I'm very jealous of the people who can get WIC benefits on an EBT-type card, because it would be so much easier to be able to just get what you need from the list at the time that you need it.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 5:54 AM
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And to clarify for 3: I got three coupons per month, and I listed each of those coupons in that comment. So yes, as of two years ago, it was up to $6 of fresh produce per month. (Woohoo! Veggie party at our place!)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 5:58 AM
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The first link looks pretty unexceptionable: the states have to convert their WIC program from paper to EBT by 2020, and it's mostly about hoops the states have to jump through to spend money on this, how stores can go about participating, deadlines for payments to vendors, technical specifications, etc. They're also improving a national database of UPC/PLU codes of approved WIC products.

So not a lot of impact on actual beneficiaries, except the convenience of having cards. They also seem to be taking the opportunity to improve service in a couple of ways: requiring there to be toll-free 24-hour cardholder assistance hotlines, and requiring the replacement of lost benefits within 5 business days, which is supposedly already the time limit independently adopted by all the states.

Maybe there's something problematic identified in the comments, but I can't see it in the proposed reg.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 8:40 AM
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Actually, heebie, your first and second links seem to go to the same place.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 8:41 AM
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Here's some advocacy for the switch to EBT for WIC benefits, which I wouldn't be surprised was part of why Congress in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 to require states to move to EBT, which had been piecemeal before; that act is what the reg is implementing.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 8:49 AM
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That "advocacy" being from JP Morgan or some affiliate, presumably mindful of profits from even more cards being used. But that doesn't make the change a bad thing.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 8:52 AM
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Sort of related- does anyone know about Medicaid/Medicare for home aides for old people? I have a cow-orker whose mom rapidly declined and he's being thrust into figuring out how to provide care for her, she lives at home but can't climb stairs any more, needs a lot of help following recent injuries and right now it's a patchwork of neighbors and family helping but that's not really a long term solution.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 9:13 AM
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Maybe look into In-Home Supportive Services, the Medicaid benefit?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 9:54 AM
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Sorry, that was my fault, I copied and pasted wrong to heebie.

The second link with the 1000+ comments should go here:

http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FNS-2011-0019-0001

"National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program: Nutrition Standards for All Foods Sold in School as Required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010"

One of the only comments I can figure out how to click on is as following

"I do appreciate the FDA encouraging healthy eating for our children, but I have several problems with this proposed legislation. First of all, what will happen to the vendors/cafeteria staff/school districts if this were implemented? Some of the vendors would lose business, which would result in loss of jobs (which this country does NOT need), school districts would lose money and the districts would suffer. I also have a problem with the government, once again, trying to insert itself into my life and choices and how I raise my children. My kids are not obese, not even overweight, and they are growing, hence stronger appetites. Having their lunch options more regulated and restricted than they already are will hurt them more than benefit them. I think I do a good job teaching them about choices they should make and encouraging them to eat healthy foods.
This country is already in the hole with our government trying to control every aspect of our lives. The least it could do is stay the heck out of how I raise my kids."

which makes me think that someone how this particularly regulation.gov link was particularly disseminated among people less than interested in child nutrition.


Posted by: Saheli | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 11:19 AM
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right, here's the link to the 1367 comments:

http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketBrowser;rpp=25;po=0;dct=PS;D=FNS-2011-0019;refD=FNS-2011-0019-0001


Posted by: Saheli | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 11:26 AM
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11, 12: As someone who is occasionally professionally obliged to read comments to a federal proposed rulemaking, let me be clear: never, ever read the comments. (Of course that's not true. Read comments from interest groups you trust, and from groups you distrust--both will be revealing. But don't read the comments of random people--rulemaking dockets regularly attract antigovernment loons with too much time on their hands.) Seriously, the fact that some comments are of the "my kids aren't fat keep the government out of my government-run schools" variety doesn't tell you much about who's disseminating info about the rule.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 12:09 PM
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11, 12: As someone who is occasionally professionally obliged to read comments to a federal proposed rulemaking, let me be clear: never, ever read the comments. (Of course that's not true. Read comments from interest groups you trust, and from groups you distrust--both will be revealing. But don't read the comments of random people--rulemaking dockets regularly attract antigovernment loons with too much time on their hands.) Seriously, the fact that some comments are of the "my kids aren't fat keep the government out of my government-run schools" variety doesn't tell you much about who's disseminating info about the rule.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 12:09 PM
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And a lot of the time you get multiple comments saying exactly the same thing.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 12:13 PM
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But it seems like there are a lot *more* comments on this particular entry in regulations.gov than most entries?

Do the people who *actually* need to read the comments have to worry about crappy comments? Or can they just ignore them?

Is there any incentive or reason for sensible people to jump in and make sensible comments?


Posted by: Saheli | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 12:18 PM
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You want to have fun nutpicking, Kath/een Mi/brath in MN is a real winner. Her comment is FNS-2011-0019-0679. It starts like this:

Regulations are a wonderful think if they are put in place to accomplish something of value for the audience that is intended. I spoke to the DECA class yesterday and they ask if we were becoming Russia.

And just gets better.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 12:25 PM
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It looks like in some cases advocacy groups make forms with standard comments for supporters to fill in and auto-submit, like with letters to legislators. I saw the same comment twice and found it was from here.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 12:31 PM
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ooh, good find minivet, thanks!

which then again begs the question: do these comments actually *do* anything?


Posted by: Saheli | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 12:33 PM
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16: No, 1300 comments isn't that much for a rule that has any public resonance. It's a big Internet out there. Last rule I litigated was a pretty obscure highway-related regulation and I think there were over 20k comments.

The agency is obliged to read all the comments, crappy or otherwise, and in their final rule they'll most likely distill them down to common themes and address them that way. In my (limited) experience, I think there's maybe some value in sensible people weighing in: the agency will have to acknowledge if there's overwhelming public support or opposition, but in the end that won't likely affect much (in part because even thousands of comments can't be counted on to be representative, in part because public support is not the deciding factor when an agency implements Congress's instructions). The interests groups on both sides will generally get the substantive reasons for and against the rule into the record, and that will lay the foundation for court challenges if it comes to that.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 12:33 PM
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11: To browse all the comments, go to the "Docket Information" section farther down to the right and click "Related Comments: View all."

I found I could better screen comments by selecting "sort by organization" in the dropdown box and scanning through the "organization" field for ones whose input seemed worth reading. The American Academy of Family Physicians, for example, is in strong support.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 12:34 PM
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Also maybe some civics classes are having students submit comments as a participation exercise?

Hello I'm the one and only lexis blanton I disliked our school lunches very much our food is always soggy and its just pure de old nasty thanks for having my opinion I would love to do an interview if you would like to hear more
Examples: soggy onion rings nasty looking piazza
Let me just tell you there was some nasty plastic stuff in My gravy yesterday and also learn to pick corn better its always brownLet me just tell you there was some nasty plastic stuff in My gravy yesterday and also learn to pick corn better its always brown

Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 12:36 PM
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I'm sure it is a reflection on my own failings, but I'm not nearly as interested in childhood nutrition as I am in learning about how I can troll the federal government. The thought hadn't even occurred to me until now.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 12:38 PM
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16
But it seems like there are a lot *more* comments on this particular entry in regulations.gov than most entries?

It varies. Lots of regulations get zero comments, lots get hundreds. I don't know what's average, but I wouldn't be surprised to see something championed by the President or First Lady get thousands, like this one is.

Do the people who *actually* need to read the comments have to worry about crappy comments? Or can they just ignore them?

They need to read them, acknowledge them, and respond to them. They do not, however, have to take a "the customer is always right" attitude or anything.

This is a notice of proposed rulemaking. Those never do anything by themselves, AFAIK, and have to be followed by a supplemental notice or final rule. Either of those has to address comments. That can mean summarizing by category. For example, Mrs. Mi/brath's comment will probably be addressed as such: "One hundred thirty-three commenters compared this measure to Russian Communism. We at the FNS don't care." And that would suffice, maybe also with a brief restatement of the legal authority or something.

Is there any incentive or reason for sensible people to jump in and make sensible comments?

Only if you really, really hate the people who have to sort them and come up with that count mentioned above.

More seriously, if you've read the document and see any facts they got wrong or anything important that looks like it was genuinely overlooked, go for it. The economist and lawyer on the team would rather know about it than not know. And for something that has become controversial, a brief, to-the-point statement of whatever you think couldn't hurt. One more feather of sanity on the scales. But if it won't hurt, it probably also won't be necessary. The more comments, the longer it takes to respond to them, but public support or opposition has little effect on the outcome either way.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 12:44 PM
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20: So basically there's no real point to this whole exerc
21: I did not catch the filter by option, good eye
if the AAFP says they're good, I'm inclined to believe they are good.
22: wow, that's quite the gem.
23: It does seem to be more about that. I watched A Place At The Table and it made it seem pretty clear that attempts to reform the system kept getting stymied by special interests that were not particularly pro-child. These two were the only things I could find that seemed to currently significantly impact hunger programs. But it seems like what potchkeh is saying is that it's all moot at this point anyway--Congress decided it.

I suppose we have some evidence here for our faith in the Obama/Vilsack USDA that despite their terrible HR practices and ties to Big Agribusiness states their underlings in charge of implementing this particular policy will implement it in the direction of good nutrition? Does that seem like a good assessment?


Posted by: Saheli | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 12:48 PM
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25
I suppose we have some evidence here for our faith in the Obama/Vilsack USDA that despite their terrible HR practices and ties to Big Agribusiness states their underlings in charge of implementing this particular policy will implement it in the direction of good nutrition?

Yeah, sure. There are still massive subsidies for corn-growers, this will take years to go into effect, it probably isn't well targeted, there are probably unfunded mandates on state and local governments in here... but the nutritional guidelines are probably getting a bit better, yes.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 12:54 PM
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22 is awesome.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 12:55 PM
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24: Thanks, that was a very informative explanation of how the process works and what could be useful and what could not be useful.


Posted by: Saheli | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 12:56 PM
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Is there any incentive or reason for sensible people to jump in and make sensible comments?

New mouse-over?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 12:56 PM
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But it seems like what potchkeh is saying is that it's all moot at this point anyway--Congress decided it.

No, I don't mean to suggest Congress decided it to that extent. Congress decided that they agency has to promulgate regulations to establish adequate nutrition standards. What the substance of those standards will be is up to the agency. My point was that the agency is supposed to be figuring out what Congress wants it to do, not what the general public wants it to do.

But agency rules have to be grounded in evidence and reason, loosely defined, so comments that bring actual evidence into the record, or point out methodological problems, etc., will have to be be carefully reckoned with, and sometimes do move an agency off its proposal. But those kind of comments usually come from the professionals (i.e., interest groups, which is of course problematic for its own set of reasons) and rarely from random commenters who simply have strong feelings about the issue.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 1:00 PM
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One comment letter I wrote for work brought up something that really did seem to be an oversight on the part of the agency which could have significantly limited the effectiveness of the change being implemented. Other commenters noted it too, and the final rule took it into account as we suggested.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 1:12 PM
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But those kind of comments usually come from the professionals (i.e., interest groups, which is of course problematic for its own set of reasons) and rarely from random commenters who simply have strong feelings about the issue.

But do they ever come from "random commenters" (i.e. private citizens without any major special interest in the rule) who are actually *well-informed* on the issue? And if you have an equal number of special interests on either side would the "random commenters" do any featherweight tipping of the scale? Are the people reading the comments allowed to ascribe different levels of credibility to different interest groups leaving comments depending on the group's expertise?


Posted by: Saheli | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 1:17 PM
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32: I wouldn't be surprised if an occasional random well-informed commenter came up with a substantive issue that the agency had to seriously grapple with. I've never seen one in the wild but there are a lot of regulatory dockets out there.

As for the competing interests groups on both sides, it's not a matter of tipping the scales, and it's not (directly) about a group's credibility and expertise. The agency should be assessing the substance of the comments and as long as it does so in a reasonable manner, that should be enough. So if People for the Promotion of Partially Hydrogenated Oils comes in and says "here's a study showing that two twinkies per day are an important part of a healthy teenage diet so the rule really ought to require school cafeterias to stock twinkies", the agency has to explain (briefly) why it thinks the study is wrong, or why another study suggesting the ill effects of a twice-a-day twinkie habit is more reliable. They don't need to rely on a commenter from the other side to tip the scales away from the pro-twinkie comment or anything like that, and they don't need to decide whether or not PPPHO is a credible organization.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 1:32 PM
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Post writers here should adopt the same obligation to respond to substance policy described in 33.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 1:43 PM
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Actually, I just noticed that we're talking about two different things. There are no comments posted about the ETB regulation. (It says they have received 3, but I didn't notice them on the Web site.) The 1,300 comments are to the rulemaking about nutrition requirements here.

32
But do they ever come from "random commenters" (i.e. private citizens without any major special interest in the rule) who are actually *well-informed* on the issue?

Sometimes. Some of the comments on the docket look reasonably well-informed to me, like this one You can be a well-informed commenter yourself if you want. Try it!

And if you have an equal number of special interests on either side would the "random commenters" do any featherweight tipping of the scale? Are the people reading the comments allowed to ascribe different levels of credibility to different interest groups leaving comments depending on the group's expertise?

It's all about evidence, legal justification, and logical argument. 10 irate dittoheads don't count for as much as one impassioned activist and one medical researcher who cited academic articles about how nutritional guidelines are flawed in some irrefutable way.

In theory at least. IRL, the humans reading these comments take comments with fewer spelling mistakes more seriously. And special interests can often keep things like this from getting started in the first place. But the comments are not being used as a poll.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 1:53 PM
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I want to revise comment 35 because it wasn't edited well. Leaving out punctuation is sloppy. Also, I included an unnecessary example in the last paragraph which, while strictly speaking accurate, could have been confusing. In my defense, I only figured out like two minutes before hitting "Post" that the EBT rulemaking and the nutrition rulemaking were basically unrelated.

Accordingly, for the reason discussed in the previous paragraph, comment 35 is proposed to be amended as follows:

1. The authority to revise it is that I've been to a few meetups.

2. Edit comment 35 as follows:

a. After the words "like this one", add a period.

b. Delete the words "one impassioned activist and".


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 2:04 PM
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Re. 9:
SP, tell your co-worker to look up the Area Agency on Aging for his mother's location. Can find it using this site:
http://www.eldercare.gov/Eldercare.NET/Public/Index.aspx

Area Agencies on Aging are supposed to act as clearinghouses for eldercare resources. He can meet with a social worker at the local one and find out options for care for which his mother might qualify, depending on her medical conditions, financial situation and location.

Medicare typically covers home care after a hospital stay, usually limited to 4 hours/day maximum and limited to a few months duration. This may be changing but I don't know the current rules.

Medicaid is used for more long-term care. Some states (such as NY) have programs in which Medicaid covers home care. Don't know about your state specifically.

Since Medicaid rules vary by state, it's important to connect with local sources of information. Also, often there may exist smaller programs which he can learn about at his Area Agency on Aging.

Wishing him sympathy. Been through this myself (it was horrible).


Posted by: Anon | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 2:24 PM
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so between 35/36 and 30 it seems like the place where the special interests really derailed the school lunch/breakfast program from improving was when the total dollar appropriation was sitting in committee in congress, and less in the nitty gritty regulations at the agency/executive level. i think i have this tendency, perhaps from spending my 20s under gwb, to assume that agency burueacrats will be very open to influence from corporations, etc., even for nitty gritty rules.


Posted by: Saheli | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 3:38 PM
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back to Thorn's feedback: it seems like the real help here might be to make sure that the super sweet refined grain poptart isn't actually even on the menu so that Nia et al can't default to it. sound right?

regarding getting kids to eat breakfast. the map and No Kid Hungry seem to imply is that the issue is a lot of kids, and their caretakers, might not even know enough about the breakfast option to take advantage of it. Thorn, you seem to be saying that at some level kids need to also be forced to eat it. this jives w/ me; i hated eating breakfast as a child for some reason. the prinicpal's tv ploy seems brilliant and loving but also not scalable, unless really systematically taken up by orgs like NCH.


Posted by: Saheli | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 3:46 PM
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38: I don't think the two are at all exclusive (though I have no idea about appropriations for school lunch/breakfast programs in particular*), and your assumption that agency bureaucrats are open to corporate influence is absolutely right, even for nitty gritty rules. There are all kinds of reasons, some very bad and some not so bad, but interest group influence on the rulemaking process is pervasive (but of course by no means always successful).

*It certainly wouldn't be odd for some interest groups to push for more spending on school lunch programs at the Congressional level, and then push at the agency level to try to ensure that they get as big a chunk of that spending as possible, assuming they thought they could successfully work both ends.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 4:23 PM
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39: not know enough or be too proud. A lot of thought has gone into figuring out how to make sure that kids can't tell if each other are in free or reduced lunch programs. Poor kids tend to get picked on, and kids often choose not to do things that get them picked on.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 4:50 PM
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this jives

Jibes.

I hate myself.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 5:23 PM
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42: I honestly did not know that. Thank you! Don't hate yourself.

41: right. I am now remembering getting picked on for *not* eating at school, when I was in public school, b/c of the whole vegetarian issue. I am realizing, in retrospect, that the places where this was the biggest problem were the two public schools I went to where the vast majority of the students were probably very poor, so there was probably a lot of work put in to get everyone to participate and I stuck out like a sore thumb.

Probably did not help that my parents went through a phase when they thought chapati pb&j was a good idea.


Posted by: Saheli | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 5:35 PM
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39

... you seem to be saying that at some level kids need to also be forced to eat it. ...

Force kids to eat when they aren't hungry and then wonder why you have an obesity problem.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 5:37 PM
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40: so what would you be your ideal solution to balance out financially-based corporate special interest with enough policy-based good-of-the-whole-public special interest? Should I just rely on giving an extra donation to No Kid Hungry and hope that goes towards letting them pay an expert to monitor such regulations and comment as needed? If I was a journalist regularly writing about this issue (which I currently am not) -- and let's pretend, for kicks, that I'm a really good journalist who supplies a lot of context and data and attracts a lot of smart readers (anyone can dream) -- would it be silly or extremely unhelpful of me to put up a post linking to this regulations.gov comment request?


Posted by: Saheli | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 5:40 PM
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39: um, forcing children to eat a healthy breakfast in the morning, when they are too spastic and excited to realize they are hungry, so they do not later gorge themselves on chips and candy when their hunger catches up with them in a major way, seems a good way to fight obesity. My mother made me eat breakfast and I was one skinny child/teenager/young person--and indeed, my weight gain as a 25+ year old was directly correlated with stressful schedules and skipping breakfasts.


Posted by: Saheli | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 5:42 PM
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My time with my godchildren + my memory of my own ornery self leads me to believe that children often do not realize when they are hungry until they are *really, really* hungry. The idea that they may be skipping a breakfast they need when

Also, the movie that inspired all this, A Place At The Table, did an extremely good job of finally making me viscerally understand how many children are both hungry/malnourished/foodinsecure AND obese at the same time. It was hard for me to understand b/c my life has always been filled with produce, not to mention food security. And one of the best ways or preventing both the malnourishment and the obesity is getting them to eat a good breakfast.


Posted by: Saheli | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 5:46 PM
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sorry 46 and 47 should be directed at 44 not 49


Posted by: saheli | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 5:46 PM
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9: (somewhat pwned by 37) He should go to his local council on aging--each town has one--and talk to a social worker there for general caregiving, local resources. He also needs to go to the Aging Service Access Point (ASAP) for his region.

Medicare pays for skilled nursing in the home for people who are homebound. Medicaid pays for other stuff. Massachusetts does a fair amount through the Home and Community Based Waiver program to divert people from nursing homes, but that assumes that the mother is eligible for Medicaid.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 5:59 PM
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49 was I.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 5:59 PM
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Meeee????


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 5:59 PM
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Noooo 47 was meeeeeeeee (nah it wasn't)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 6:00 PM
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Funny.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 6:05 PM
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47

... And one of the best ways or preventing both the malnourishment and the obesity is getting them to eat a good breakfast.

As an adult I (almost) never eat breakfast. I doubt it is very important.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 6:11 PM
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37, 49- Thanks, I passed the links on. I don't know if his mother lives in MA but that's at least a lead to look for something similar in another state. I also remembered that one of our seldom-used employee benefits is an assistance program where consultants are standing by to give you exactly this kind of information, so I told him to call them.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 6:25 PM
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I almost never do, either. But I also bet you notice you're hungry, and eat something, before the point of having serial nonsensical meltdowns. Regular healthy meals help kids not go past that breaking point.


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 6:25 PM
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As an adult

This aspect is probably more important than you think. An adult is not likely to need breakfast in the same way a kid will due to the whole "still growing" thing.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 6:36 PM
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Kids are assholes like that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 6:37 PM
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Apparently I can't search the archives very well, or it really has been five years since I said this, so it's worth repeating:

Philadelphia has a nationally pioneering "Universal Feeding" program, which despite its terrible name is a truly excellent, solidly researched program.

The basic premise is: If a school has a high level of poverty, ALL of the students get breakfast, no questions asked. It's a remarkably powerful policy even given its myriad imperfections.

More on why this matters.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 6:47 PM
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(I should add that even here there is room for better implementation and worse -- e.g., the principals that permit breakfast to be served during the first class of the day are also better at ensuring that more kids actually EAT the breakfast.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 6:49 PM
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The basic premise is: If a school has a high level of poverty, ALL of the students get breakfast, no questions asked.

I think that they should do this everywhere--rich or poor. And you shouldn't have to buy school lunch or pack it yourself; it should just be there. Maybe this is because I went to private school where they made everyone get the school lunch as part of tuition. At the girls school I went to we had a great salad bar, and the teachers ate there too.

Similarly I think that municipalities should clear sidewalks instead of expecting individuals and companies to do it -- and fining them for failing to. In at least one place in Ontario it's considered a municipal responsibility.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 6:56 PM
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I think that municipalities should clear sidewalks instead of expecting individuals and companies to do it

NO KIDDING. Ugh makes me so mad.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 6:58 PM
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Use tax dollars to feed kids and employ people to do useful things? Bunch of godamn commies around here.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 6:58 PM
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I'm told the Japanese grade schools have meals for all the children, not `to feed the hungry' but so the children can in turn practice serving and manners and cleaning up.

The TV shouldn't go to the kid who eats the most breakfasts -- possibility of tie, but also, partway through the school year some kids will realize they're out of the running. How about, every completed breakfast gets you a raffle ticket -- how old do kids need to be to find that a draw?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 7:02 PM
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I think that municipalities should clear sidewalks instead of expecting individuals and companies to do it

Lines up well with checking the sidewalks for ADA compliance. Which I am perpetually battling to keep up; our Seattle house has lovely bigleaf maples in a tree-lawn too narrow for them, and boy can they heave concrete. But the house will be much less pleasant when they're gone. (And a decade of careful pruning has gotten the branches opening at a good angle and also over the bus and electric wires!)


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 7:05 PM
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Bunch of godamn commies around here.

Right? Let them eat bootstraps!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 7:05 PM
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I think that municipalities should clear sidewalks instead of expecting individuals and companies to do it

*sighs longingly*


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 7:06 PM
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Around here they don't even make the property owners clear the sidewalks. The snow just piles up until it eventually melts.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 7:09 PM
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57

This aspect is probably more important than you think ...

Maybe but as soon as I was no longer forced to eat breakfast I basically stopped with no apparent ill effects.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 7:14 PM
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Around here they don't even make the property owners clear the sidewalks.

Nor here, I assure you.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 7:18 PM
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DERAILING ALERT. My personal anecdote thus refutes decades of public health data!


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 7:18 PM
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JBS, I don't think "Children should be able to do whatever they want whenever they want" is one of the stronger positions you've defended over the years.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 7:18 PM
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72: DON'T MAKE HIM TRY TO DEFEND POSITIONS THAT MAKE SENSE. SHEARER HAS BEEN MUCH HAPPIER SINCE HE STOPPED TRYING TO SAY THINGS THAT MADE SENSE.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 7:21 PM
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70: Oh really. Here Walgreens got fined for not doing it, but it takes more than a week to get the fine in place. And then there are people on corners who do clear the sidewalk but don't make a path to the road.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 7:21 PM
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68 is a slight exaggeration; occasionally someone will come along and clear the sidewalk after a few weeks. I presume it's whoever dumped all the snow from the street there in the first place.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 7:24 PM
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72

JBS, I don't think "Children should be able to do whatever they want whenever they want" is one of the stronger positions you've defended over the years.

Not actually my position.

School breakfast seems like one of those programs that gets instituted because it sounds vaguely plausible that it is a good thing and not because there is substantial evidence that it is actually needed. And when the anticipated demand fails to materialize supporters keep pushing ahead anyway.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 7:44 PM
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59 = my experience here. Nia is in Spring Break Camp at the Y (and to tie in to earlier conversations, a day at the Y costs significantly more than we're paid for a day in foster care) and I have to get her to eat breakfast before she goes and it is SO HARD to get her to admit she's hungry and put some fucking food in her mouth so we can get out the door, even while I'm lying and insisting she has to have had breakfast or I can't drop her off. I've been so spoiled by school breakfast, but we all have and it's been a good thing. Her usual choice is bagel plus fruit plus milk, now that Pop-Tart alone is off the table.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 7:47 PM
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I'm sufficiently angry at the troll that I'm going to step away from this thread for a while, but before I do, one food organization with impeccable research credentials (they had a Ph.D. level evaluator back when they had fewer than 10 staff).

And a newer university-based center conducting extensive research on food and poverty.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 7:51 PM
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Both Heebie and Witt have already pwned me on this point, but JBS, I am unimpressed with your anecdotal self-evidence, weight against all this (and my own anecdotal evidence) and am inclined to believe that instead your confession explains many of your comments, especially in light of this, like perhaps you just routinely forget various kinds of evidence. You might want to consider giving breakfast another shot.


Posted by: Saheli | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 7:55 PM
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I'm sufficiently angry at the troll that I'm going to step away from this thread for a while

Don't let the terrorists win!


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 7:56 PM
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Thanks for the links Witt. Sorry you got trolled away. Thorn, thanks for sharing your experience actually, you know, taking care of small kids.


Posted by: Saheli | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 8:02 PM
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@Bostoniangirl my private school used to leave out a fruit bowl (standard apples, oranges, bananas) and whole wheat bread and peanut butter--so while you needed to pay (and show up on time) to get breakfast or lunch (or dinner, since it was a part boarding school), you could grab these snacks whenever you realized you'd forgotten to eat, no matter who you were. (And of course financial aid students got a subsidized rate on the actual meals). There was a huge uproar at town meeting (which I attended as an adult teacher there) when the peanut butter had to be nixed b/c of peanut allergy concerns, but some sort of suitable replacement was found that now escapes me. It always seemed like a very sensible minimal policy. I wouldn't want to stigmatize children whose parents actively don't want them to eat the meals, b/c of my own experience as a stigmatized minority child, but it seems like making breakfast, lunch, and even an end of the day snack a funded and communal part of the day serves a number of social and pedagogical interests.


Posted by: Saheli | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 8:13 PM
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it is SO HARD to get her to admit she's hungry and put some fucking food in her mouth

Boy has that never been a problem in my house. My girls have always been ravenous at breakfast. My wife has to be at school at 0720 and the girls ride with her so they're all up by a quarter to six. I get up and get breakfast made for everyone because they're all pretty unpleasant without it.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04- 2-13 8:19 PM
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82: That sort of works. I still think that they shouldn't charge. And schools should certainly be providing vegetarian options even if not everybody would be accommodated.

The other thing you hear that is really offensive (at least in Canada) is that those kids on welfare go to school with junk food, because their parents are irresponsible.

Providing everyone with lunch and not allowing candy bars on school grounds might reduce the judgmental teacher factor.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04- 3-13 5:05 AM
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I am shocked, shocked that Shearer doesn't care about evidence! Seriously?


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04- 3-13 5:36 AM
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My school used to sell donuts at morning break. Everybody needed some sugar because the break was too short to sneak far enough away to get a smoke.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 3-13 5:37 AM
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83: I have no idea what the deal is, since she is a seriously good eater most of the time. I think she's just convinced that the other kids are already at day camp and having fun and she is desperate to get over there and get going, and can't figure out that arguing with me about breakfast doesn't get her there faster. I'm sure if it was part of our routine everyday, she'd manage.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 3-13 5:45 AM
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87: We got graham crackers and milk. You were allowed to have tea once you were in the 9th grade.

In highschool Seniors got doughnuts after chapel.


Posted by: Boatoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04- 3-13 6:06 AM
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7 years ago there was a huge uproar here because a kid of one of the city councilors came home and told his dad that the school had stopped serving fluffernutter sandwiches. Ever since then it's been an edict that all schools must have them on the menu at least once a week, and they are.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04- 3-13 6:07 AM
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Ok, I had that story totally backwards- I guess the once a week is an upper limit? I see them on the monthly menus that are sent home.

In June 2006, Massachusetts State Senator Jarrett Barrios gained national attention when he proposed legislation restricting the serving of Fluffernutter sandwiches in public schools. After Barrios learned that his son was served Fluffernutters on a daily basis at his Cambridge, Massachusetts, public elementary school, he created an amendment to a junk food bill that aimed to limit the serving of Fluffernutters in Massachusetts public schools to once a week. The proposal was criticized as an example of trivial and overly intrusive legislation, while Barrios' supporters pointed to concerns over the problem of childhood obesity. Among the people who defended the Fluffernutter at the time was Massachusetts State Representative Kathi-Anne Reinstein, whose district in Revere was close to Lynn, where Marshmallow Fluff is made. She claimed she planned to "fight to the death for Fluff" and supported legislation that would make the Fluffernutter the official state sandwich. The measure failed, and Reinstein tried again unsuccessfully in 2009. Supporters of the bill cited the sandwich's close association with childhood and Massachusetts.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04- 3-13 6:10 AM
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Supporters of the bill cited the sandwich's close association with childhood and Massachusetts.

I just wanted to see that again!

I did not start out as a PopTart home, but Mara gets them as snacks at school about once a month and so Lee thought it would be worth buying them sometimes. (Her school meal program is funded by the USDA, I think because of high poverty but maybe for other reasons that are just not clear to me, and the meals are generally excellent but the snacks are often uninspiring.) So Nia gets about a quarter of a PopTart a day plus grapes or kiwi, usually, and I'm okay with that now but will hold the line against Lunchables to the death.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 3-13 6:16 AM
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I agree with both legislators. Fluffernutters should not be a daily food, and they should also be the state sandwich.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 3-13 6:19 AM
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91.1: Me also. Now whenever I think of Massachusetts, I'll think of Flutternutter instead of Scott Brown reclining nude. So, 50% less vomiting.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 3-13 6:21 AM
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Think of eating a Fluffernutter while listening to Roadrunner and flicking Necco wafers into peach baskets set at basketball height.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 3-13 6:26 AM
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I would say think of towns that start with W but that reclining nude asshole is from one of them so maybe that's a little too close for comfort.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 3-13 6:27 AM
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Now whenever I think of Massachusetts, I'll think of Flutternutter instead of Scott Brown reclining nude. So, 50% less vomiting.

He could recline nude, in a pool of Fluffernutter, couldn't he?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 3-13 6:30 AM
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Hmm, the word "fluffernutter" is a near perfect hack on two nations divided by a common language, and really inappropriate too:-)


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 04- 3-13 6:31 AM
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96: a Fluffernutter is a sandwich. I suppose he could recline nude in a pool of sandwiches but it doesn't seem optimal.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 3-13 6:32 AM
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A pool of Fluff itself would be easier but rather sticky.


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 04- 3-13 6:33 AM
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Fluff-pwned.


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 04- 3-13 6:33 AM
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I thought fluffernutter was the marshmallow goo. Huh. Thank god I'm clear on what Goobers is.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 3-13 6:33 AM
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101: Me also, but I don't know what a Goober is. I mean, it's a peanut, but I thought there was more to it than that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 3-13 6:34 AM
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I bought some for that camping trip, thinking "one fewer jar!" and it's astonishingly disgusting tasting. I'm not sure why it is so much sweeter than its components, but it is.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 3-13 6:35 AM
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Fluff is marshmallow goo. A fluffernutter combines it with peanut butter and white bread into a healthy meal with all the vitamins and minerals a growing child needs.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 3-13 6:36 AM
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I want someone to try making (and eating!) a fluffermite.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04- 3-13 6:43 AM
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Nggh!

I dunno, might be good.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 3-13 6:44 AM
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On googling, it appears that exactly one person thought of this before (and it was retweeted a few times, including by the US Australian embassy.) I figured it was out there somewhere, rule 34 and all.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04- 3-13 6:50 AM
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There is exactly one hit on google for "fluffer goober".


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 3-13 6:52 AM
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What the fuck is Goober?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 3-13 6:56 AM
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Oh I see. Gross. Why is it called that?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 3-13 6:56 AM
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I would feel stupid wearing one of these in Massachusetts, but people who live other places should strongly consider them.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 3-13 6:59 AM
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