School Principal Bans Packed Lunches

According to a story in today’s Chicago Tribune, at Little Village Academy on Chicago’s West Side, students are not allowed to pack lunches from home. Unless they have a medical excuse, they must eat the food served in the cafeteria.

Principal Elsa Carmona said her intention is to protect students from their own unhealthful food choices.

But many parents and students aren’t happy with this mandate, despite Carmon’s intentions.

In fact, according to the article, many Little Village students claim that, given the opportunity, they would make sound choices.

“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,” said student Yesenia Gutierrez. “It’s really lame. If we could bring in our own lunches, everyone knows what they’d bring. For example, the vegetarians could bring in their own veggie food.”

The lunch at Little Village is $2.25 a day – does this seem high to you? Can you pack a lunch for less than that?

Any of us who’ve spent time in a school lunchroom (and that’s most of us) have surely seen kids throw away the food they aren’t eating. So the idea of taking away any options for what they might want to eat seems like it might increase the chance that food is going to be wasted.

Clearly, this solution may not be the best plan. What other options are there for improving the nutritional value of school lunches? What’s worked for you in that area?

Some schools ban certain foods and drinks, like those with excessive amounts of sugar. Some schools even ban processed foods.

What are the rules at your child’s school? Are any foods OK for lunch, or are there rules in place to ensure lunches from home meet set nutrition standards?

We’d like to hear your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by.

8 thoughts on “School Principal Bans Packed Lunches

  1. wow, i’m not sure i even know what to say that. unless they’re serving organic chicken and organic greens for lunch, i can’t imagine that the school lunch is going to be healthier than what the kids are bringing from home (and there are plenty of terrible sack lunches as well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the school lunches will be a better choice). i, for one, have never seen a school lunch that was even close to being considered healthy. unless, of course, it was prepared by jamie oliver. 🙂

  2. ONLY if it’s organic, whole foods. Non-hydrogenated oils used. Locally raised, hormone-free meats. ALSO, it isn’t about forcing one and only option on a mass of people, that won’t work. It’s a SCHOOL, we need to EDUCATE kids, parents and OURSELVES about the best food choices to FUEL our bodies. Each of us require different things to keep our bodies running at optimum performance. It’s up to US to learn what that is.

    AND… although I commend the school’s efforts to make it a goal to keep kids eating better food, students need to learn WHY they should be eating better food. Millions of advertising dollars are put into promoting harmful “food stuff,” they need the info to make the right decisions for themselves.

    Forcing a single source like this could lead to even more corrupt corporate influence of the food our kids eat. Bidding wars over who can supply the already underfunded schools with the CHEAPEST food instead of the high-quality brain food our kids need to stay focused and learn.

  3. This is an invasion of privacy, puts many, if not all children’s health at risk and is a denial of religious freedom.

    How are they going to ensure that a child allergic to peanuts does not get something contaminated by peanuts? It is the most common and DEADLY food allergy out there! I have had to return canned greens to the store because the can stated they were processed in the same facility as peanuts! Same with wheat flour!!!!!

    What about children with diabetes? hypertension? (yes children have this have a cousin that was BORN hypertensive) Allergies? (The eight major food allergens are: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat and soy) Migraines? (foods can cause migraines and it is different foods for each one) Heart Conditions? The list goes on and on.

    What about all the religions that have dietary restrictions? Jews, Muslims, Seventh Day Adventists, Buddhists, Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholics, Rastafarianism, etc.

    What about those that are vegan by choice?

  4. Anyone happen to read the original story? This paragraph caught my eye:

    “Any school that bans homemade lunches also puts more money in the pockets of the district’s food provider, Chartwells-Thompson. The federal government pays the district for each free or reduced-price lunch taken, and the caterer receives a set fee from the district per lunch.”

    Let’s be honest, it’s not about healthy choices at all.

    • I can see huge potential for corruption.

      BUT, in a “perfect world,” this would be AWESOME!

      If the intent was to feed kids the healthiest meals possible, and the school made sure to use high-quality ingredients, and had creative multi-talented chef and staff.

      To not only, feed but EDUCATE by example.

      This would be AMAZING!!!

      They would later go on to make the right food choices in life because they learned, first hand, by how it feels to have a good diet.

      AND the kids would be able to focus better, and retain information easier.

      Studies have been done connecting nutrition and performance in school.
      This is nothing new.

      I love junk food too, but I know it’s junk food. I don’t even think some kids, and parents, know that what they are eating is often junk food disguised as a meal.

      Fuel your brain with the best.

      Unfortunately, I feel like there are additional motives at stake, and a few people will profit from the misfortune of many.

      • AND had multiple kitchens to accommodate nut allergies to avoid cross contamination.

        I didn’t think about religious dietary restrictions, because I personally believe I eat to fuel my body. It makes no sense to me to restrict my diet for any religion.

        I can appreciate that other may restrict their diets because of a religion.

        So then I guess you would have to take account of the students on a per school level.
        Have a “Regular Kitchen” and a “Restricted Kitchen”.

        The people who alter their diets due to religious reasons should be able to be accommodated by “Restricted Kitchen”. Which should also accommodate the vegans, vegetarians, Kosher, Buddhists, Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholics, Rastafarianism.
        Have vegan “Ital” options (cooked in clay pots), as well as raw.

        The main kitchen would serve meat, and vegetarian (lacto-ovo) entrees and sides. Sometimes fish entrees too. Not vegan in the Main Kitchen though.

        There could also be an organic juice bar!!!

  5. My kindergartener attends a magnet school in a district that is moving toward locally grown food for its cafeteria. This in a district that is broke, broke, broke (don’t get me started on the deficits our kids are facing). This in a school that is uber-diverse, as kids come from all over the city, meaning there’s a vast socio-economic variation amongst the kids.

    My daughter is allowed to buy her lunch once a week and I pack my her lunch the other four days and it is almost obnoxiously healthy. Honestly, I prefer her to have a lunch from home, but the school lunches are not what they used to be and I’m warming to the cafeteria food.

    Now, one of her classmates regularly brings a lunch that consists of two mini-Slim Jims, a Dole fruit cup and a Capri-Sun or other fruity drink. Another brings only a small bag of Lay’s potato chips. Other kids bring candy, cookies, cakes, etc., even though parents are specifically asked NOT to send this stuff to school.

    These are anecdotal examples but the point is, school lunch may, in fact, be a whole hell of a lot better for many children. Making it mandatory probably isn’t the best route. But some kind of incentive (farm to table, locally grown) might not be a bad thing for kids who are at the junk food level of the food pyramid.

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