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Video: 'Big Mother' is watching in the lunchroom

TODAY
updated 3/20/2007 12:29:23 PM ET 2007-03-20T16:29:23

We're all familiar with "Big Brother," but some grade-school kids are discovering a new monitor — Big Mother. A school in Texas now allows moms to monitor and restrict what their children are eating in the lunchroom cafeteria. NBC's Janet Shamlian reports.

The school lunch line ... brimming with temptation. With no parent around, 10-year-old Bailey Ingrim thought she could indulge her sweet tooth.

Bailey: My mom thinks I go a little crazy when it comes to my snacks.

She tried to buy some ice cream, but the treat on her tray never made it to her mouth. The cafeteria worker stopped her cold.

Kelly Ingrim, Bailey's mother: She knows she's not allowed to have ice cream unless I say: ‘OK, Bailey, you can have ice cream today.’

Bailey's school in Dallas has a cafeteria with controls. Kids use lunchtime charge cards that are a tracking tool, allowing parents to restrict food purchases, then check what the kids did eat through the Internet.

Bailey: Mom thinks that sooner or later, I'm going to get fat.

For moms and dads separated from their children all day, it's more than just a chance to check on what was for lunch. It can also provide peace of mind.

Kathy Huey, school nutrition director: We have a lot of diabetic children, we have children that are overweight and we have children that are anorexic.

This tool that helps parents monitor what kids are eating is available only in a handful of schools, and most are in the Midwest.

Kelly Ingrim: It opened up the door to discuss nutrition with Bailey ... ‘Tell me what happened with the ice cream.’

But a teaching tool to one parent is an intrusive device to another.

Jennifer Durham, mother of five: If you're watching every single move they make, then as they get older they won't be able to make those decisions on their own.

For Kelly Ingrim, lunch tracking reinforces at school what she tries to show her daughter at home. It's a way to develop good habits now in hopes of preventing problems later.

Kelly Ingrim: It's just a nice way to make sure they're making the right choices.

© 2013 MSNBC Interactive.  Reprints

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