Monday, April 18, 2011

School lunches - don't bring them from home in Chicago!

In the Chicago Public Schools system, it is left to each individual principal's discretion as to whether or not students are allowed to bring their lunches from home. Six years ago, Principal Elsa Carmona effected a ban on home-packed lunches at Little Village Academy, a K-8 public school on Chicago's west side.

Carmona said in a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, “Nutrition wise, it is better for the children to eat at the school. It's about the nutrition and the excellent quality food that they are able to serve (in the lunchroom). It's milk versus a Coke.”

A CPS spokesperson was also quoted in the Tribune's article, defending Carmona's school lunch policy, saying, “this principal is encouraging the healthier choices and attempting to make an impact that extends beyond the classroom.”

It's the whole “attempting to make an impact that extends beyond the classroom” part that doesn't sit well with me, and remember, (for now) I'm a teacher.

In education today it seems we are asked more and more to “make an impact that extends beyond the classroom.” Don't get me wrong. When it comes to trying to teach our students about being responsible, conscientious citizens who want to make good choices in school and beyond, I'm all for that, and I work hard trying to do this with my students.

But more and more, we're asked – and sometimes required – to take on many roles that I firmly believe belong with the parents. This school lunch policy is a good example of the schools reaching too far beyond their boundaries. It should be up to the parents to decide what their kids will eat for lunch, to take responsibility for ensuring their children are eating well. With the computer programs being utilized in most schools , it's not hard to keep up with what our kids eat for lunch. I can check every day, if I want to, to see what my daughter bought for lunch. If parents check what their kids are buying and don't like it, then they should be parents and put a stop to it.

Another question I have, and one that is raised in the Tribune article is, what about the kids who don't like the school's food? They don't eat. They throw it away. And they have no other option. How is eating nothing “better nutrition”?

Chicago Public Schools are taking away the rights of parents to decide what to feed their children. How can this be good, and why aren't parents arguing against it, if for no other reason that the principle of the whole thing?

There will never be a time when the school knows what's better for my child than I do. Never.


  1. Who is to say what is more nutritious? With all of the conflicting information about what is good for you and what is not it is inconceivable that the justification for not allowing the kids to bring lunch is because the parents might not know better. Thank goodness the "state" is looking out for us peasants!