The View from My Kitchen

Benvenuti! I hope you enjoy il panorama dalla mia cucina Italiana -- "the view from my Italian kitchen,"-- where I indulge my passion for Italian food and cooking. From here, I share some thoughts and ideas on food, as well as recipes and restaurant reviews, notes on travel, and a few garnishes from a lifetime in the entertainment industry.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A Stupid Use for Canned Food

An Insane Proposition: School Recommends Kids Bean Armed Intruders With Canned Food

Have you met ALICE? It's an acronym for a new method of school safety – Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate. According to its website (, it's the “new standard of care for K-12 schools.” All well and good, I'm sure, in principle. It's the practice that worries me. Particularly the part where little kids are supposed to defend themselves against armed intruders by pelting them with canned food.

Yeah, you read that correctly.

Officials at a middle school in Valley, Alabama, a town just up the road from Auburn on the Georgia border, recently sent home a letter requesting that students bring canned goods to school. Not for a food drive, mind you, but as a means of self-defense. It's the “counter” part of the ALICE method.

The nutjobs who run the school think that “arming” kids with cans will give them a “sense of empowerment to protect themselves and will make them feel secure in case an intruder enters their classroom.” Right. Canned corn always make me feel very secure. The inanity continues, “It is a practice that would catch an intruder off-guard. The canned food item could stun the intruder or even knock him out until the police arrive.”

There are so many things wrong here that it boggles the mind.

In the first place, armed intruders seldom tell you they're coming. In order to be prepared, the kids would have to keep their canned goods close at hand. Like on their desk tops, perhaps. If they have to dig them out of their backpacks or whatever while the intruder waits patiently to be “countered”, the deterrent factor is somewhat muted. I suppose you could design a holster of some sort; something the kids could wear around the school. “Watch out for Johnny! He's packin' pinto beans!”

In the second place, we're talking middle schoolers here. Age and maturity might play in just a little, don't you think? I mean, some crazy with an assault rifle jumps through the door and pops the teacher and a couple of your friends. Are you going to A) calmly reach into your backpack, grab a soup can, and accurately throw it at the bad guy while he's pointing a gun at you or are you going to B) scream and wet yourself? I'm betting on the latter.

Which brings up a third point; coordination and physical ability. How many kids of that age who aren't on the baseball team or something are likely to be able to effectively throw a can on the fly? This isn't a situation where they'll be able to calmly line up and take careful aim. I can just see a room full of panicked eleven year olds heaving cans in every direction. They'll likely take out each other – as well as most of the windows. Now admittedly, the letter specifically requests eight-ounce cans. Little cans. I can maybe see some tyke doing some damage with a #10 can of tomatoes, but an eight-ouncer is likely to just make the assailant angry.

And that leads to the effect such an assault might have on a whacked out guy with a gun. Sure, there's a possibility that one kid might get lucky and bounce a can of cling peaches off the guy's forehead. But the odds are much greater that he'll just get more pissed and deranged than he already is. And what do pissed and deranged people with guns do when they are threatened or attacked? Pile up lots of dead kids, that's what.


The superintendent of schools for the county is a little more realistic. It's not all about “countering,” she says. She apparently doesn't envision a pint-sized commando squad equipped with cans of Le Sueur peas. “The major point of the the training,” she says, “is to be able to get kids evacuated and not be sitting ducks hiding under desks.” And many safety and security experts agree. “Countering” is a bad idea waiting to happen. Far better that the kids be alerted, locked down, informed and that they get the hell out of there. ALIE would probably be a better idea than ALICE.

And yet, thirty states have implemented the ALICE method in their school systems. You might want to check with yours. Especially if you catch Sally raiding the pantry. Some fool might be “empowering” her and making her feel “secure” by telling her that she can do a Wonder Woman and knock out a bad guy with a can of soup. But Wonder Woman can bounce bullets off her bracelets. Can Sally?

The school in Alabama concludes its misguided missive with the cheery affirmation that any cans not used to ward off evil will be donated the the local food bank. And maybe that's where they should go to start with. How about just take care of the kids by being alert to danger and then getting them out of harm's way. Never mind the lunacy of trying to get them to “protect” themselves armed with little cans of carrots and a false sense of security. You'll just get them killed.

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