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Sorry no more homemade lunches

Posted by on Apr. 13, 2011 at 7:06 PM
  • 10 Replies

Chicago school bans homemade lunches, the latest in national food fight

By Liz Goodwin

Students who attend Chicago's Little Village Academy public school get nothing but nutritional tough love during their lunch period each day. The students can either eat the cafeteria food--or go hungry. Only students with allergies are allowed to bring a homemade lunch to school, the Chicago Tribune reports.

"Nutrition wise, it is better for the children to eat at the school," principal Elsa CarmonaƂ told the paper of the years-old policy. "It's about ... the excellent quality food that they are able to serve (in the lunchroom). It's milk versus a Coke."

But students said they would rather bring their own lunch to school in the time-honored tradition of the brown paper bag. "They're afraid that we'll all bring in greasy food instead of healthy food and it won't be as good as what they give us at school," student Yesenia Gutierrez told the paper. "It's really lame."

The story has attracted hundreds of comments so far. One commenter, who says her children attend a different Chicago public school, writes, "I can accept if they want to ban soda, but to tell me I can't send a lunch with my child. ARE YOU KIDDING ME????"

For parents whose kids do not qualify for free or reduced price school lunches, the $2.25 daily cafeteria price can also tally more than a homemade lunch. "We don't spend anywhere close to that on my son's daily intake of a sandwich (lovingly cut into the shape of a Star Wars ship), Goldfish crackers and milk," Northwestern education policy professor Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach told the paper in an email. She told The Lookout parents at her child's public school would be upset if they tried to ban homemade lunches.

"I think that lots of parents at least at my child's school do think that what they pack is more nutritious [than school lunches]," she said.  A Chicago public school teacher started a blog to protest the city's school lunches, and last year the schools tightened their nutrition standards for cafeteria-served school lunches. Every lunch must contain whole grains, only reduced-fat salad dressings and mayonnaise are offered as condiments, and the meals must feature a different vegetable each day. Meal providers also must reduce sodium content by 5 percent annually. About 86 percent of the district's students qualify for free or reduced price school lunches because their families live close to the poverty line.

Change in Chicago's school cafeterias feeds into a larger effort to combat the country's childhood obesity epidemic. About a third of America's kids are overweight or obese, and since children consume at least 30 percent of their calories while in school, making lunches healthier is seen as one way to counter that problem. Poorer kids are also more likely to be obese or overweight than middle class kids, and to consume a bigger proportion of their calories while at school. Forty-four percent of American kids living below the poverty line are obese or overweight, according to a 2010 study published in Health Affairs.

While we haven't been able to track down another school that bans homemade lunches outright, many smaller food battles have been playing out in cafeterias across the country. As principals try to counter obesity in their schools, healthy intentions can come across as overreach, occasionally sparking parent and student anger.

Alabama parents protested a school's rule that barred students from bringing any drinks from home, as ice water was provided at lunch. East Syracuse, New York schools have outlawed cupcakes and other desserts. And schools around the country have kicked out chocolate milk and soda vending machines. Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin even showed up in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, with dozens of cookies to express her disdain for a debate in the state about recommending teachers limit the number of times per month the sugary treats are eaten in classroom birthday celebrations.

Tucson, Arizona's Children's Success Academy allows home-packed lunches--but only if nothing in them contains white flour, refined sugar, or other "processed" foods, the Arizona Republic reported in a story last year. The school has no cafeteria, so some parents told the paper they struggled to find foods to pack that meet the restrictions. Many schools ban fast food or other take-out meals.

Soon, cafeteria offerings across the country will all be healthier, whether students like it or not. Last year's Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, championed by First Lady Michelle Obama, calls for higher nutritional standards to serve the 32 million kids who eat lunch every day at school (most of whom qualify for free or reduced price lunches through a federal government program). For the first time, the USDA will set calorie limits for school lunches, and will recommend they contain more vegetables and whole grains, and less salt,USA Today reports. French fries should be replaced by vegetables and fruit, the guidelines say.

The bill also calls for stricter food safety checks on cafeteria food.



I am sure these "school lunches" contain soo many additives in their foods. How does everyone else take this? This makes me glad I plan on homeschool.

by on Apr. 13, 2011 at 7:06 PM
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Replies (1-10):
Pandapanda
by on Apr. 13, 2011 at 7:37 PM

I saw this story yesterday. I think it's ridiculous.

It's okay to let people picket soldiers' funerals because they have rights, but we aren't allowed to feed our children what we see as best for them? No thanks. This is why my children will be homeschooled.

Roadfamily6now
by on Apr. 13, 2011 at 9:02 PM

Great analogy.
By the way, did you see the photo that accompanied the article? LOL

Quoting Pandapanda:

I saw this story yesterday. I think it's ridiculous.

It's okay to let people picket soldiers' funerals because they have rights, but we aren't allowed to feed our children what we see as best for them? No thanks. This is why my children will be homeschooled.


Tammy

"It is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick."

 Join us in the Natural Birth Group!






Pandapanda
by on Apr. 13, 2011 at 9:35 PM

I threw out my school lunches too.. that stuff is nasty! There's no way someone will convince me what I ate at school was good for me.

Quoting Roadfamily6now:

Great analogy.
By the way, did you see the photo that accompanied the article? LOL

Quoting Pandapanda:

I saw this story yesterday. I think it's ridiculous.

It's okay to let people picket soldiers' funerals because they have rights, but we aren't allowed to feed our children what we see as best for them? No thanks. This is why my children will be homeschooled.



peanut06
by on Apr. 13, 2011 at 11:27 PM

When I became a vegetarian in 9th grade, I called myself a "french fry vegetarian" because that was basically all I could eat.  When I changed schools for 10th grade, I only had slightly more options because I was dating the son of a worker, so she reserved me back cheese pizza or a grilled cheese on ham and cheese days.  Yes, peanut butter and crackers is an "option," the same as greasy grilled chicken is an option at McDonald's...  If I'd been vegan back then, I really would have had to pack my lunches.  Many days, I just chose to skip lunch altogether and ate, you guessed it, french fries (or a baked potato), when I got to work at Wendy's later that day.

srbeusk
by on Apr. 13, 2011 at 11:33 PM
sooooo glad i'm homeshooling...this is just another good reason... I remember school lunches...i was sooo happy when my parents decided to start doing sacked lunches!
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srbeusk
by on Apr. 13, 2011 at 11:34 PM
sorry...homeschooling...dang cellphone!
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doulala
by on Apr. 13, 2011 at 11:54 PM

Our public school serves organic, vegetarian lunches.   I wish I could afford it!   My kids beg!

MamaKalila
by on Apr. 14, 2011 at 12:03 AM

The school we're using (through middle school anyway) is the exact opposite. We have to send homemade lunches lol. I'm 100% ok with having to do that... I remember what I had to eat at school and it was awful.

DixieFlower
by on Apr. 14, 2011 at 4:43 PM

I think this principal has over stepped here. First her school is the only school in the district with this guideline. Second it's a PUBLIC school. It's one thing for parents to select a school that has such a restriction however, for most public schools you are just told where you will be going. I'm sure the per student lunch funding that the school recieves is her incentive. I know where I live the schools get nutrition money based on how many students purchase school lunch. They base this on a weekly avg. Not to mention the money they recieve for free or reduced lunch. Add this to the other many reasons I plan to homeschool my sons.

truealaskanmom
by on Apr. 14, 2011 at 6:46 PM

I think it is total and udder bullshit I hate hate hate how stupid schools like these give the public school system such a bad rap.  I was a public school teacher before staying home with my kids and I know first hand these kind of meals are GARBAGE! and also that most schools aren't that bad that the real issue is that parents don't get involved enough so the system over steps.  I would not put up with this as a parent or a teacher in this school and would make enough noise until it is changed.  As a parent it is your right to decided what your children consume the school system cannot take that right from you.  If schools are going to fight obesity then they need to do it via education and community support not by strong arming those that actually care about their childrens heath because they take the time to pack them a lunch. I am appalled by this kind of behavior and it makes me nervous to go back to work when the kids are in school 

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