By Gigi Barnett

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — How do parents track everything their children are eating in school?  Take a picture of it on a calorie camera.

As Gigi Barnett explains, several schools in Texas already have the federally funded cameras.  Could they make an appearance in Maryland?

A camera that takes a snapshot of exactly what students choose as they go through the cafeteria line may be the newest weapon in the fight against childhood obesity.  When lunch is over, the camera takes another picture of what the kids left behind.  The camera then sends the photos to parents.

Five San Antonio schools are testing the federally funded cameras.  Could it work in Maryland schools?

“If it helps people, I’m for it,” said one.

The camera also calculates the number of calories each student ate.

“I ate a sandwich, a banana, two cookies and chips,” said a student.

School leaders say the photos will help curb childhood obesity and diabetes by showing students how to make healthy choices.  Some parents say the photos could enforce what they’re teaching at home.

“If the kids knew that was going on and that I might be able to see the picture, they might be more motivated,” said a parent.

The calorie cameras cost $2 million.

Comments (86)
  1. amy stout says:

    instead of spending the millions it would take to implement this, how about schools just serve more nutritious lunches?

    1. Fan of Jamie Oliver's "Food Revolution" says:

      Amen! Ditch the inaccurate nutrition pyramid that controls the school lunches, practice sensible nutrition. And, remove the soda, juice, and junkfood vending machines from schools..

    2. T-party Guy in FL says:

      Amen again. Instead of Big Brother tattle-tail nonsense, just serve good, basic foods.

      Stupid bureaucrats! If you replaced a couple of these jokers with real nutritionists, it would be cheaper for everyone.

    3. lucky me says:

      II went to my childs school an was surprised at how poor the school lunches are and took notice of the portion size and the quality of the foods our school serves….DISAPPOINTING…..they have some nerve blamming obesity on the parents….hot dogs, chicken nuggets, bread sticks, mozz cheese sticks, cheese burgers and very few vegetables or friuts on the plate, then chips & popcorn or ice pops as extras???? It’s sad to say but the kids get a better, more nutritions meal at a fast food joint…..Plus all that gov. surplus downer meat they serve contain steroids and high volumes of antibiotics…why wouldn’t we have obese children with that poor quality of food I think instead of the gov trying to waste everyones money on cameras, they should invest the money into organic/balanced/healthy/nutritious school lunches and stop trying to take on my parental rights……(THEY SHOULD SWEEP THE DIRT OUT FROM THERE OWN FRONT DOOR BEFORE THEY WORRY ABOUT MINE)

  2. More Waste in State says:

    Wow, I didn’t realize MD was doing so well financially that it can afford to have illegal residents pay lower in-state tuition, purchase cameras to monitor kids eating in school, etc. Yet there is not much available for our best and brightest students.

    Will these cameras be placed in the cafeteria buyers’ line, or will it also monitor what kids eat who bring their lunch to school?

    1. IT'S FOR THE CHILDREN!! says:


  3. Doug says:

    How about raising your children,you non-parents out there.
    Or must the government steer you from cradle to grave.

    1. OBAMANATION says:

      WOMB-TO-THE-TOMB! That’s how we democrats roll, in our

  4. Debbie says:

    Big Broither is truly watching. It is time the government got out of the business of intruding in everyone’s lives and making decisions for them.
    Maybe they ought to take pictures of what the people who are getting those food stamp cards are buying since that is with government tax payer money and that would be some interesting photos.
    Those of us who are paying our own way and raising our own children don’t need your help. Give it to those who need the government to fund and support them and their children.

    1. Mark Richardson says:

      Excellent point Debbie;
      Did anyone think of just asking the kids what they ate?
      Personally, I am not much in favor of the government watching it’s citizens this closely, how do they tell the kids apart? Is someone sorting the pictures, or did they microchip the kids?
      We used to bring our own lunches, or pay for the school stuff, but at least they used to cook it, and it wasn’t bad, sometimes a deer or moose would be on the menu.
      We will never control our deficit and debt which are a national crises when we have worthless feel-good programs like this springing up everywhere.



    3. hiway280z says:

      What next, camera’s in our homes to see what we eat. No wonder our boarders and country lack protection, Government is to worried what we eat and making sure we only say p.c. things. What a sad country we have become.

  5. T says:

    This is crazy! Talk about micromanaging and wasting money! I wonder how many eating disorders this brilliant idea will cause…..

  6. Leovinus says:

    Reason #7854843593049 to homeschool your kids.

    1. Alexander says:

      I agree 100% I was homeschooled until middle school and then I went to private school till highschool and then when I got here I was like Wow I really miss private school. You might as well not even call America free. People like the parents who cant raise their children and the government who wants to rule all of us are destroying what millions lost their lives for. I love America. I miss her.

      1. the friendly grizzly says:

        “…when I got here I was like Wow…” This is the sort of English you learned with home schooling and a private school? Tsk tsk tsk!

  7. Amy says:

    I am so happy when my daughter eats ANYTHING!! She is SO picky, and very underweight. She won’t eat any of the school food they serve. She is only in kindergarden, but she is so worried about being fat because the school has filled her head up with food lies…not all kids are fat. Not all kids eat or even like junk food, or the poor quality school food that is worse than junk food. I would be happy if my daughter actually ate something like candy or fried french fries! She needs calories!!! I wish people would lay off this food control trip! Let kids eat when they are hungry and play and run and work it off. Quit being a control freak!

  8. BobF says:

    Let’s get our kids used to having their privacy violated as early and as young as possible. That way they won’t notice when all their liberty is gone.

    1. Rose Olsski says:

      You are right BobF. The students will not realize their liberty is disappearing, since it’s disappearing at the public schools. A lot of the do gooder’s are for killing the unborn, so why do they care so? It only makes sense that if they have governement filming them on a day to day basis, inorder for them (in the future) to be OK for the ruling govenment to be “in their life.” I thought it was a power thing, BobF, you cleared the fog!

    2. ZorkDude says:

      WELL PUT BOB !!!

  9. Patrick Henry says:

    Just when I think this state and city can’t get any more stupid, they go and do something like this….AND TOTALLY REVEAL THEMSELVES! Nothing like policing our food. Is there NO privacy anymore? Liberty and freedom is stone cold dead. I’m sending my kid to school with a deep fried lunch. Everything. Including the banana.

  10. DJ says:

    What could possibly go wrong…

  11. alpo says:

    Next will be a camera in the school bathroom to show what your kids eliminated during the day!

  12. Fanny Forbes Franklen says:

    There is nowhere in the constitution for the funding government schools or the incompetents that staff them.

  13. When it comes to libs, the issue is never the issue. This is just acclimating children to constant surveillance, and making them feel guilty for exercising their choice to eat what they want.

  14. RJ says:

    WOW Get the kids out to play and you wouldn’t have to worry about how much fat they eat, they would be burning it off. No wonder there are more and more and more home schooling. Maybe everyone should just give their kids to the state;i

    1. Masquer08er says:

      We are already there. The state just pays the parents to help them out. Primary caregiver..The State. I have wondered why anyone wants to have a baby so they can leave the baby at day care. Then they are surprised about the way the kid turns out.

  15. K. Reux says:

    As a parent I am completely offended by this blatant intrusion. I have raised two children–one just graduating from college and one going to be a senior in high school. If this were happening in my school I would be at a school board meeting in a heart beat!

    As a parent it is my job to monitor my children’s health–not the state’s nor the school’s. Furthermore monitoring one meal would not be sufficient to change childhood obesity levels. Frankly, if a parent has allowed his or her child to become obese, notifying them of their child’s eating habits for one meal at lunch will make little difference! If they have not helped their children become disciplined thus far, they are not likely to be more motivated with a candid shot of a lunch tray.

    This is an example of wasted taxpayer money and schools being involved in activities that have little to do with education. If they were really serious about what kids ate for lunch then they should not offer varieties. They should serve one menu and a one-sized-portion for all. That would get rid of any need for cameras, reporting, or monitoring.

    What’s next, searching sack lunches and taking pictures of the contents?

    I recognize children do not have full rights as citizens (e.g., freedom of speech is subservient to school discipline and environment)–but this goes far beyond those issues. This has nothing to do with maintaining discipline in the school environment. This is intrusion of the highest order.

  16. Joseph Dinyon says:

    …Because Big Blubber is watching you!

  17. Curmudgeon10 says:

    Let me guess — poor parents, who don’t have broad band and/or email, will get a handout to acquire same, so they can get the pictures. Either that or a government funded smart phone.

  18. Nikki says:

    Baltimore better not ask tax payers for one more dime of money after this. This is what happens when you just throw money at schools and expect education to be fixed…they blow it on junk like this.

    Mom and Dad…it’s called a sack lunch and it takes about 5 minutes to make in the morning. I have two kids and they get breakfast at home and sack lunches at school.

  19. Mike from Minnesota says:

    Why not just imprison the little buggers and force feed them a government approved breakfast followed by two hours of HATE BUSH SPEAK followed by an approved lunch followed by mandatory volunteer work and then two hours of LOVE OBAMA then afternoon snack followed by two hours of HATE CHENEY. Finishing up a the day with a song praising OBAMA as their lord and savior. Then after school a mandatory protest against cutting teachers pay.

    1. Carol says:

      Mike, without a doubt the funniest and thought-provoking post of all. It was amusing while painting a bold picture of the future. I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did.

    2. Me says:

      WAIT … I thought that praising the lord and savior in schools was banned …

      1. ha ha says:

        You mean, someone’s IDEA of a lord and savior? It is…and should be unless you are willing to let your kids pray to someone else’s idea of a lord. You don’t live in a country where one religion (or whatever version of that religion you people can agree on) dictates to whom we worship and how we do it. You don’t live in a country where someone’s idea of perfectly acceptable practices include mutilating a woman’s private parts or forcing them to hide themselves under layers of thick clothing in the dead of summer. Aren’t you glad you live in a country that allows you to pray the way you want to and to whom you want to?

  20. mom says:

    Instead of spending two million dollars on cameras and calorie calculations, why doesn’t the school spend the money on organic, local, fresh, non-genetically modified, non-processed food with a good balance of protein, carbs, and healthy fats (no trans fats…more omega-3 fats!). The food and food quality that a majority of our public schools feed our children contributes to learning disorders, obesity, and disease.

  21. mom says:

    Instead of spending two million dollars on cameras and calorie calculations, why doesn’t the school spend the money on organic, local, fresh, non-genetically modified, non-processed food with a good balance of protein, carbs, and healthy fats (no trans fats…more omega-3 fats!). The food and food quality that a majority of our public schools feed our children contributes to learning disorders, obesity, and disease. Additionally, I would wager that a majority of children are allergic to many of the ingredients added to school lunch food…it might not create an anaphylactic shock response in the child and cause death that day…but it will slowly kill them. .

    1. Masquer08er says:

      Feed the kids yourself if you are worried. Also, organic food will make you fat, too. I promise no kid got fat eating anybodies school lunches. An allergy can be measured. It is not some mysterious thing. There is a lot of psuedo science on the internet.

  22. eatme says:

    Why don’t these idiots put that money into our education system and teach literacy instead of being so damned worried about what your kids are eating, OR put it towards our Military’s Defense Budget to protect we fatties. Food Police…. How Pathetic. What has become of my Country???? 😦

  23. alanwillingham says:

    What next? Follow the children into the bathroom to analyze whether what came out equates to what they thought went in?

    How about putting cameras in the teacher’s lounge and the principle’s office so we can see if they are luring children in there for sex?

  24. Brett says:

    Let’s start streaming video of what goes on in the class rooms. Then maybe teacher will feel compelled to teach and students to learn.

  25. Masquer08er says:

    How about a camera in the classroom to see what’s going on there? See how this NCLB is working for you.

  26. Barrys Photoshop Lies says:

    Get the little buggars outside to play an extra 30 mins/day. For the fat sedentary video game addicted ones , put their lunch way out on the ball field and make them go get it. Want some milk with that? Another trip. Utensils? Another trip. Repeat until desired results. I could set this up and be more effective with a $2,000 grant.

  27. Hank Warren says:

    Sick ‘educators’ spying on kids, yet another violation of our rights. Add it to the list of gov’t violations of our right:
    They violate the 1st Amendment by placing protesters in cages, banning books like “America Deceived II” and censoring the internet.
    They violate the 2nd Amendment by confiscating guns.
    They violate the 4th and 5th Amendment by molesting airline passengers.
    They violate the entire Constitution by starting undeclared wars for foreign countries.
    Impeach Obama and sweep out the Congress.
    (Last link of Banned Book):

    1. Facts, not speculation says:

      FYI…Bush started that one, not Obama.

  28. bob says:

    NEWS FLASH! Children are not getting fat in school. Even if they were fed a fully nutritious lunch, you can’t stop them from getting all the “bad” calories they want. Next thing we know potato chips will be considered a gateway drug.

  29. Historyshowsus says:

    What they need to be monitoring is the number of these little turds that get subsidized meals, throw them away and then BUY junk food while wearing expensive pro sport branded clothes with their mothers delivering them to school in a Lexus. My wife teaches grade school and this is the norm.
    This is what you get when we have a massive number of students on free or reduced lunch programs. If your government pays for it then they feel they have the right to monitor and eventually control it. In DC, according to the kidscount report, 75% of kids get subsidized lunches. Really? There are that many people in DC in poverty? I don’t think so. MD has not shared their numbers with kidscount. That alone is suspicious. One state actually defined how many students were eligible for subsidized meals (about 16%) and then a separate number on who was receiving them (49%). SO in spite of the fact that they knew who was eligible they were providing government subsidized meals to 3 times that number. I wonder how many teachers they laid off when they needed to balance the budget. This type of entitlement attitude is eroding your freedoms by giving our government the attitude of “we provide it so we are going to monitor it”. You have nobody to blame but yourselves for re-electing these schmucks.

  30. AnneP says:

    Why don’t you take this money and reduce class size? Or hire a nutrition teacher, or develop a nutrition curriculum? This so smacks of spying.

  31. Mark Carlton says:

    These aren’t federally funded cameras, they’re taxpayer funded cameras. The feds don’t fund anything.

  32. Ryan says:

    I can’t believe parents actually believe this is what their kids will eat. Once they sit down at their lunch table, they’ll trade to get their hands on whatever they want. Kids may be dumb, but they aren’t stupid.

    1. len says:

      it’s not even about what kids are eating, that just an excuse. it’s much bigger than that. this is about Big Govt conditioning kids to be comfortable being surveilled. This has nothing to do with what kids are eating, it’s more about conditioning the sheeple. And I’m surprised there has been no public complaints from the parents. but sheep rarely complain, do they?

  33. Barb Fears says:

    If the parents and children cannot communicate, they have way more many problems than what is consumed for lunch. Maybe the parents should ask their child….

  34. len says:

    ahhhh, DARPA at it once again. tracked, traced and did we Americans ever survive before Big Govt?

  35. Tom B says:

    ….and they can have an abortion without telling the parents?

  36. “If it helps people, I’m for it,” said one.

    Thank you, for that vague, unattributable quote from one. Glad to see the vetting process is alive and well in journalism

  37. Justin says:

    This is 1984 style government control… Soon we will have cameras in our homes telling us what we should and shouldn’t eat, making sure we are safe, not having bad thoughts, etc… There will be cameras and microphones everywhere to track what we do and “correct” us when needed. This is not what America is about. America has had enough of this Orwellian nightmare.

  38. Ben Dover says:

    That’s your tax dollars at work.

    How stimulating.

    And you want these geniuses running your health care?

  39. Jasonn says:

    ENOUGH (!) with this government intrusion into the everyday lives of the American people. It’s WAY past time to get out the pitchforks and march on the castle.

  40. Bob White says:

    Oh boy. Next they’ll want cameras at home to make sure the kids eat properly there as well. I just love giving up more and more of my freedom to thes totalitarian pukes.

  41. seanpatriot says:

    Im really starting to hate this “helicopter liberal parents” BS country

  42. wipinbutts says:

    How many pieces of TP did I use? I don’t remember….oh yea, it’s on tape!

  43. TexasTea says:

    In Texas we are laying off teachers by the thousands but we still have $2mil for this? At $65K they could have saved 30 teachers jobs! They use the teachers as hostages to demand more funding and their union allows it because they are part of the scam. It shows where the SAISD’s and the Union’s priorities really are. They punish the children and teachers but they keep their CRAZY Big Brother Schemes!

  44. Avenger says:

    Newsflash to all dummies! Kids are going to eat what they are going to eat, whether it is at school, on the way home, or at home. This nonsensical B.S. with the government controlling every facet of our lives is surely putting a smile on the face of George Orwell (if that were possible!). Enough is enough! If the American sheeple are stupid enough to think this is a good idea, our country is indeed dead in the water. C’mon Obama, just declare a dictatorship and get it over with! The self serving ignoramus’ in Congress will go along, just throw them a bone once in a while.

  45. ChristaJeanne says:

    “Big Brother” much?! This is ridiculous!!! Spend our tax dollars on preventing crime. Obesity is an issue, but it’s better addressed at home than by the state. How about stimulating the economy so people have less stress and more time in which to make and eat healthy meals with their families?

  46. comprof says:

    These people are corrupt at every turn. Spending taxpayer money to film children eating when they claim they do not have money to pay teachers. What a crock..Just another infringement on our freedom. These politicians are more dangerous that the middle east terrorists.

  47. comprof says:


    1. No party is better than this cr@p says:

      What are our options? Candidates so far left, their right and candidates who don’t care who suffers as long as their pockets are full. Not much of a choice.

  48. Dana says:

    My son only has half an hour for lunch and that includes time to stand in line to buy his lunch. Am I the only one who thinks this adds to the problem. I am a slow eater, always have been. I don’t see how slow eaters can eat properly or healthily when given such a short time period to eat.

  49. JQP says:

    Wait…are they tattling on themselves? “Can you believe what we are serving your kids?!? …and Look! They’re are buying it! What is wrong with you terrible parents, allowing your children to eat the garbage we are serving them?”. What is the point in this waste of tax payer money?

  50. Jamie Phelps says:

    Wow, really, a school lunch, once a day isn’t making kids fat! I grew up eating school food and I’m 5’1 and like 103 pounds, It’s the fact that they don’t get enough exercise and so many kids go to fast food all the time. Parents can’t watch they’re kids all the damn time. let them be kids and eat what they want, just get them outside!

  51. Sarah says:

    Hey, here’s an idea. How about instead of complaining about how terrible the school’s food is, you take 5 minutes out of your day to pack a decent lunch for your child? I think it’s ridiculous that parents try to blame things like the school system for their children’s weight problems. Obesity wouldn’t be such a huge issue if so many parents didn’t neglect their kids and let them eat this high-calorie trash and sit inside all day. Television and junk food aren’t the problem. It’s the people who don’t care enough about their kids to keep them away from stuff like that, or at least teach them about using things in MODERATION.

    1. Clarifying? says:

      Finally, another stay at home mom who understands that parenting is what we are meant to do, not join the work force and leave the rearing of our children up to strangers….that is what you are right?

      1. Sarah says:

        I am a stay-at-home mom. However, I feel that even if you are a part of the work force, you can’t blame your children’s weight problems on those looking after them, whether that be a baby sitter or the school system. I know what it’s like to try to work full-time, while still being a full-time mom and I can honestly say that during that time, I still had control over my son’s well-being. It seems to me that a lot of people aren’t willing to take the blame for things that would’ve been easily preventable by just caring a little more.

      2. Clarifying says:

        Sarah, I am grateful that you made the decision to stay at home with your children. So as not to appear naive, I am aware that if women suddenly up and left the corporate world to stay home and take care of their families, our economic system would crash. However, a slow return toward thinking of children as the future of our world and how we can best serve this purpose seems a much better plan than continuing to see them as the due course of life and, a rather inconvenient one at that.

        The most pathetic thing I ever read was a married couple with two substantial incomes deciding in which day care to put their baby…while she was still pregnant. That is as selfish and self-serving as the lady on welfare in section 8 housing popping out her 5th child. One wants the title, the other wants the spoils. The afterthoughts…I mean the children…are the ones that suffer. Not a popular opinion, and one for which I am sure to be slammed, but it is my opinion.

  52. Doug says:

    Time to abolish this bloated pathetic excuse for a school system and home school your darlings.
    A cheap computer and some software,
    and save us tax payers BILLIONS !!!
    Most teachers aren’t worth their weight in potato chips.
    Especially with food costs on the rise.

    1. JQP says:

      I do, and it’s worth every minute.

  53. joe says:

    two million dollars?!!!!!!!!!! How about leave the kids alone and let them be kids and enjoy some cookies. Use some cameras for there proctection,put some around the school.
    How sad are these parents?! “Son we need to talk about your report card and then about these pictures I see of you eating some chips.
    Sad.. so sad.

  54. norelief says:

    OMG that is possibly the most idiotic waste of money and invasion of privacy that I have EVER HEARD!
    Just say no to our tax money being spent on Big Brothers Moronic Food Police Cameras.
    What next….bathroom cameras to make sure kids are wiping their butts?????

  55. Free2speak2 says:

    Invest that money into more healthy food & education. You don’t need to spend unecessay money on a freaking camera. Our tax dollars are already spent on unnecessary garbage.

  56. Decent Person says:

    What happened to the good old days.? When I went to school, the cafeteria staff actually Prepared and cooked the lunch. Does everything have to be prepackaged? Our kids are not the brave men and women of our armed forces, having to eat MRE’s. Open the kitchens, hire REAL food prep personnel, and get our kids nutritious food.

  57. truthteller says:

    where are the cameras to catch what these children do when they are not in sure seems MOST parents arnt watching…

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