“When is the next election dad?” My 9-year-old McRae asked one day.

As a parent, that’s an exciting question to hear from your child. What a great dad I must be! My fourth grader is already civic minded. She’s curious about democracy in our country and is asking how she might get involved in the issues that are shaping our world.

“It’s in 2016 McRae.”

“Good,” she responded, “The president’s wife ruined our school lunches. Maybe it will get better then.”

If I made a list of “reasons my daughter would be interested in the election,” that would not have cracked the top 100.

I joked with McRae for a few minutes about her concerns with the quality of the school lunch and then we talked about other things. I thought the lunch discussion was a passing whimsy.

Three days later, McRae came downstairs with a letter she wanted me to mail to First Lady Michelle Obama. Here is what she wrote:

“Mrs. Obama,

I’m writing to you about how bad the cafeteria food is.

Every couple days I buy lunch. The pizza crust is whole grain and it’s gnarly. All the chips are oven baked and they don’t sell pudding. ☹ I know you are fighting childhood obesity. Always I hungry after lunch. There is something that really concerns me. Lots of people in my class buy multiple ice creams and chips and only eat that for lunch.

Above all my friends in 4th grade and me wish for decent food at NAME OF SCHOOL SHE ATTENDS in Franklin, Tennessee.


McRae Acuff.”

Thanks Obama

There are a few things I’d like to point out about this letter.

1. Thank goodness my kid doesn’t know the phrase “Thanks Obama” or she probably would have started the letter that way. Instead she absolutely crushes the first line, addressing her key point right out of the gate. “I’m writing to you about how bad the cafeteria food is.”

2. She’s pretty clear about her main objectives. The pizza crust is whole grain and as a result, gnarly. The chips are oven baked, which is apparently not desirable either. And, crime of all crimes, they don’t even sell pudding any more.

3. She acknowledges First Lady Michelle Obama’s key objective, “fighting childhood obesity.” I’m not even sure where she learned this phrase but good for her recognizing the opposition’s chief aim.

4. Not only does she recognize the issue of childhood obesity, but she points out the fatal error of the new approach to cafeteria food – kids are still eating junk. She’s right on that point; I’ve eaten lunch with her and watched as kids ate multiple ice creams instead of their lunch. Baked chips might be better, but three bags of baked Cheetos does not a vegetable make.

5. She summarizes the whole thing like a champ. “Above all my friends in 4th grade and me wish for decent food …” She’s not asking for filet mignon or Parmesan kale salad with raisins. All she’s asking for is “decent food.” You can almost hear her standing on the cafeteria tables to rally the other fourth graders, imploring them Newsies-style to “Open the gates and seize the day!”

I’d like to think that McRae wrote this letter because her dad writes books like Do Over and she was inspired by own plucky crusade to help people actually enjoy what they do for a living, but I can’t take credit for this.

McRae likes pudding and someone messed with it.

End of story.

[Tweet “There’s no more pudding at school. The president’s wife ruined lunch. – McRae Acuff”]