Brown Bag Lunches Banned at one Chicago Area School

Tuesday, April 12, 2011
The Chicago Tribune is reporting that one city school has banned all brown bagged/homemade lunches unless the student has a medical condition or food allergy.  The reason?  The school principal claims that the school's cafeteria lunches are HEALTHIER.  When I first heard this tidbit (with no background) on CNN this morning, I was outraged.  However, as I read through the article, I found myself siding with the school and its seemingly outrageous policy.  While there are probably many families out there that do provide their kids with a healthy lunch, including fruit, vegetables, whole grains, etc, there are plenty of families who don't, can't or who do and then the kids trade away, swap, or ditch their healthy lunches in favour of unhealthy junk food. 

In many urban areas (especially in poorer neighbourhoods), there is often little or no access to fresh fruits and vegetables.  Major grocery stores are often too far to travel to by bus/walking so parents end up shopping at convenience stores.  The closest thing to fresh fruit for some folks is a strawberry poptart.  And if, by chance, fresh options are available, they're often more expensive than the junk food.  When living on a fixed income or a very small wage, many families end up buying what they can afford, not what they should be eating.  We're raising a generation of soda/potato chip addicted children who, when they are faced with fresh veggies, turn their nose up and complain that they don't like the taste - no wonder they don't like it; broccoli isn't loaded with salt, sugar, oil and a ton of preservatives you can't pronounce.  When left to their own devices, kids will often choose the treats or familiar items (such as chicken nuggets and fries) over peas and a pork chop.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying I think most school lunches are healthy.  Most of them, again, are filled with salt and sugar and come from a box in a freezer rather than plucked from the soil and delivered fresh.  However, if the school is offering some fresher options, the chances of it being healthier than soda and chips is pretty good.  The problem, however, is bigger than school lunches vs. homemade.  If we make fresh foods more readily available to urban areas, and a price that everyone can afford, perhaps we can start to change the way our kids look at food.


Kasia said...

Great post said...

I read this yesterday.. Its sad. I dont think all school lunches are healthier.. but they think they know better than parents do what to put in the kids lunches.. I am so glad i homeschool the girls.

sp said...

Does this cost the parents extra money? I couldn't figure out what the cost was from the article. It looks like it might be government subsidized.
It's problematic, and I think it should be a choice that the parents make to either participate in a school lunch program or not.

I hope they decide to be more flexible than an outright ban. said...

SP being a parent in the states this means that they want you to quit sending lunches to school with your child.. Some of the schools arent government paid. Some are local.. And meaning you have to pay for lunches and if you cant pay for them you get reduced lunches.

I feel that parents can put fruit and yogurt in lunches and put what kids like in the lunches unlike schools. but they think they know best.. sure what ever.. that is why i home school my girls.

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