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School Banned Brown Bag Lunch

Alarmed that her students were bringing junk food for lunch, Chicago school Principal Elsa Carmona decided to save the children from their (nutritionally-challenged) parents ... by banning brown bag lunches:

... 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.

"Nutrition wise, it is better for the children to eat at the school," Carmona said. "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. But with allergies and any medical issue, of course, we would make an exception."

Carmona said she created the policy six years ago after watching students bring "bottles of soda and flaming hot chips" on field trips for their lunch. Although she would not name any other schools that employ such practices, she said it was fairly common.

What do you think? Good idea or Big Brother? Link - via Dvorak Uncensored

I don't tend to think of this as Big Brother, as there is always going to someone in charge of what kids do, because they're kids. There a many rules that children have to follow in a school environment, like what to wear, what you can say etc.

My only issue with this is that they're missing a teachable moment. What they should have done was created a list of acceptable/non-acceptable foods. They could have sent this list home, and parents and kids could have take from that list to make their own lunches. Eating well is all about eduction.
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I taught in public schools for 20 years, the last 8 here in Yellow Springs, OH, where MANY folks are health conscious and/or vegetarian. I think it's disgusting. The school menus in 4 of the 5 districts I taught in were AWFUL...french fries, greasy burgers, vegetables so limp you couldn't identify them...No, I think the parents should be choosing the lunch. Try some educating them, but definitely NOT require them to get lunch at school. I'd almost bet it was a problem with the contract with the food vendor...
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So wrong to take away the choice of the parents of these children like that. This principal is an authoritarian and needs to do a better job of explaining this ruling or back off, quick.
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1. I dont' think its the schools job to tell kids what to eat.
2. I doubt the schools food is all that nutritious.
3. I wouldn't be surprised if the principal got a kickback from the lunch vending company.
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I don't know. I ate school lunch every day. It was greasy, gross, and not at all friendly to my lactose intolerance. There were no vegetarian option, and the lunch workers sometimes confided that they wouldn't eat specific items on the menu. Yeah... School lunches aren't cool.
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I'm all for people eating healthier, but forcing them to eat at school is not the way. In my HS, you got fries, pizza, or a chicken sandwich (Clux Delux, more clucks for your bucks).

I went vegan in HS, so me and all my little vegetarian friends got together and got the principal to order veg food for us. It was pretty awesome; some of the 'meat eaters' were jealous. ^_^ It still wasn't the healthiest food, though.

Parents should care enough to pack their kids a decent meal, but most are apathetic or uninformed.
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big brother! How dare this principal think she knows better than a child's parent. While some parents might pack cokes, there are many families who send better lunch than the school. Shame on this administrator for her bold presumptions and inflated ego. I would march up to the principals office and withdraw my child so fast their heads would spin.
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It's not the fact that she's trying to enforce good nutrition, it's the fact that she's forcing family's to cough up whatever the lunch costs - with no other options.

You might be able to make laws telling the schools what type of school lunch they can serve, but you can't make families that have to send their kids to public school eat that or nothing.
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Yeah, there's the rub. Full price school lunches are $2.50 where I live, and I have four kids in school. If had to pay full price, that would be $10 a day. And they'd be brown bagging it.
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I don't think this is a good idea at all. My mom packed very healthy lunches when I was in school and I would actually eat (most) of it. I would not have eaten the school food because 1. it was gross, and 2. I was a picky eater. If I hadn't eaten at all that would have been even less healthy. Although schools have a responsibility to protect their students there is a limit of what they should do.
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Easy way to counter this. Just keep making your kid his/her lunch and sending them to school with it. If the school takes it away, then tell them they had better give your kid a free lunch from the cafeteria or there will be BIG issues.
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HOW are school lunches healthier than what parents pack? It isn't the principal's place to make nutritional decisions other than what to serve. NOT everyone can afford to pay for school lunch.

Maybe if American school lunches were something like these: opposed to Chicken patties, hamburgers, and tater tots. Oh and milk in a bag.
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This is Big Brother, no doubt. It's not the school's decision on what a child eats, it's the parent's decision. I am SO glad my children are in college and I don't have to worry about such things, but it isn't just schools that are making such decisions. Look at Boston, where the Mayor decided that vending machines can't have sugary snacks and drinks. Who the $@#& do these people think they are? If I want to drink a soda pop, that's MY decision, and the government doesn't have the right to tell me otherwise. If I want to send my kid to school with a sandwich, chips and soda pop, that's my call also. Screw these people!
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Are they going to take care of the vegetarian children?
How about the lactose intolerant children?
Are they go to cater to any and all food allergies on a daily basis without serving those kids the same thing every day?
Are they going to serve both kosher and non kosher meals?
Are they going to assist in the cost?
I see nothing but trouble with this idea.
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So apparently it takes a "Little Village" to raise an idiot...

So yeah, almost much all of the other commenters summed up my sentiments pretty well, so there's nothing more to say
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Don't understand the need to force instead to teach.
If you teach how to eat properly you create the long lasting habit to do it right.
If you force you simply dont create it at all, an order its exactly the way to elude the hard work to teach.
Pretty ironic coming from the educational sector.
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Is it just me or is it a parents right to feed their kids whatever they want? I mean, of course kids shouldnt eat junk every day, but thats a parents decision. You never know, maybe the kid plays sports or gets a lot of excercise. Maybe they're a very picky eater, and having PB&J and chips every day is better then them eating nothing.

I ate cheetos and drank pop growing up and I turned out fine(bought both of them at school in fact). In fact, heres what I used to eat at school (graduated in 05). Pizza that I had to mop the grease off of before it was edible, Nachos with meat floating in grease, soggy fries covered in ranch dressing to make them edible, and, my favorite, chicken nuggets with mashed potatoes in gravy, all mixed together with more ranch. Our "healthy" choice was salad (only dressing was the same came in a bucket) or we could go to the "sub bar"....which cost almost 3 times as much as a normal lunchh. My mom probably would have packed me salmon and yogurt :(

Now I am really missing that ranch...I even used to dip cheetos in it... (once again, I turned out perfectly healthy, I ran track and played soccer, so...)
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A mandatory school lunch is the standard practice for public schools over here in Japan. If done well, this can be a good thing.
1) A nutritionist at each school designs the lunches and offers a breakdown of each meal at the beginning of each month. That means I know the nutritional value of everything I'm going to be eating in advance.
2) Each lunch has locally sourced ingredients, is cooked at school, served by the students to each other, and absurdly consistent at 850 calories.
3) Each lunch follows a basic guideline: protein, wheat/grain, vegetables, dairy. About twice a month students get a treat of dessert, chocolate bread or a sweet of some kind.
4)Any parent can opt their child out of the system. One girl in my school has a few dietary restrictions and keeps her bento (boxed lunch) in the teachers fridge.

In comparison to the lunches I had (served to me, bought in the cafeteria or brought with me)the lunches served to the kids I teach are ridiculously healthier. They are much cheaper for the parents (and teachers too, since they usually eat with the students).
I understand the Big Brother fears (seriously, I do) but I would like to point out that something substantial, offered to everyone equally, is a good thing. It just has to be done first with the right intention and then with dedication.
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We always brought crap to eat on field trips, because it was a break from our usual routine. This woman's elevator doesn't go all the way to the top floor.
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I'm hoping the principal didn't use the word "unhealthful", but it's probably just as sad to think that someone who writes for a living created that word.
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We had a traveling taco that was very popular at our school. The lunch lady would open up a small bag of fritos in dump some taco meat into it, then top with sour cream and cheese.


But they were sooooo goood.
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Like school lunches are any better? From what I remember, school lunches were just as filled with junky greasy awful food too.

And as others have mentioned, it's the parent's choice what they're sending their kids to school with. Sure some or a lot of it may be junk, but that is still their choice.
Also what about the parents who can't afford the school's oh so healthy lunches every day? Is the school going to give those kids a free meal?

How about educating the kids AND the parents about proper nutrition and then let them decide what they want to do. If they still want to send their children to school with a can of soda and chips, then so be it.
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And yet another reason my children are now home schooled. To think a "public" school payed for by the residents of that district are now telling the people who pay them how they should raise their children.

I'm all for nutrition, both of my children are active, healthy and "average" body weight but I'll be damned if I let someone tell me what I should be feeding them on a daily basis. I'd tell this principal she's suffering from a sever case of cranial anal inversion.
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I've seen this issue discussed on other sites, and the consensus seems to be that it's not about nutrition so much as it is about control. It also teaches the kids that the school knows better what's good for them than their parents do.

This is ridiculous on its very face. I also wonder if there's not an element of bringing everyone down to the same level, so that kids whose families are maybe a little better off and who can afford to pack nicer lunches are forced to eat the same as the kids who eat the "free" lunches.

There is nothing wrong with wanting kids to eat healthier, but this is not the approach. Education would be better, and bringing back recess and PE programs to schools would be even better than that. I didn't start putting on weight until I stopped moving, and until age 22 or so was one of those people who could eat anything and stay the same size. Then heredity kicked in. Sigh.
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Why does everyone assume that the cafeteria at this particular school serves crap – just because that's what YOU had at YOUR high school? Until we know what THEIR cafeteria is like, that point is quite useless to make.
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It's fairly common in parts of the UK - I see a lot of kids who eat nothing but junk food at home (eg KFC every night), so this is the only place they are getting wholesome food (sometimes this can just mean wholegrain dough for the pizza! It's enough to make a difference.)

Granted, I work in a very deprived area of the UK, and not all pupils have that problem - but if that is all they saw, then that is the norm. Show them salads, and they grew to like them.

Have a read again of Big Brother (the book, not just the phrase) and see if it still rings a bell. Sometimes people are just trying to help in any way they can. Even if it just means a bit of better food.
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Well this is one issue which I tend to agree with the majority. She is definitely overstepping acceptable bounds for the respect of human individuality and the propriety of parental guidance.

With that said; I wanted to point out on the side that this has no relationship to "communism at it's finest". I'm currently studying Marx and Engels life works and learning how they adapted Hegel for economics. Hegelian philosophy is really interesting, I haven't engaged in a serious study yet, but on the face of it, Hegelian philosophy is a reiteration of what already seems obvious to me from elsewhere.

"Here, as in the philosophy of history, there are three great moments, Oriental religion, which exaggerated the idea of the infinite, Greek religion, which gave undue importance to the finite, and Christianity, which represents the union of the infinite and the finite. Last of all, absolute mind, as philosophy, transcends the limitations imposed on it even in religious feeling, and, discarding representative intuition, attains all truth under the form of reason. Whatever truth there is in art and in religion is contained in philosophy, in a higher form, and free from all limitations. Philosophy is, therefore, "the highest, freest and wisest phase of the union of subjective and objective mind, and the ultimate goal of all development.""

A friend once asked me; I need $35,000 really quick, what does your philosophy say about that? To which I replied; It says if you had studied philosophy earlier you would't need $35,000 really quick.
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I understand what you are saying, but I highly doubt this school is serving great quality meals. Its a public school in Chicago that serves For one, the article said that kids are throwing most of their school lunch away instead of eating it. The picture was of a garbage can full of apples and corn, in my mind, two of the worst cafeteria foods. Cafeteria apples were always mealy or bitter and the frozen corn was alwasy mushy and flavorless. Yes I know that was my experience, but obviously these kids dont like it either or they would eat it instead of throwing it away. What happens on taco day for the kids who dont like tacos? They probably dont eat. Is it just me or do you think that would be bad for test scores?
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The school is a government agency telling you how to raise your child. Today they tell you what you can feed your child at school, tomorrow they tell you what you can feed your child at home. Parents should be speaking up en masse but this is a very poor area of Chicago where many parents rely on the government for most of their resources any way.

Here in California there are schools with "zero sugar" rules where you are prohibited from bringing any sugar onto campus. Other schools go through your child's lunch and throw away cookies or gatorade or anything with peanut butter and send you home with a note.
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If they feel it is a REAL issue and i mean not just a couple kids doing it (Letters home call in parents to chat)
hmm lets see how about we do what schools do
They can have a class or send home a handout something to help the parents LEARN to do it proper but then again who in heck is She to say what is and what is not proper for My child??
No harm but the schools in my area claim to be serving health diets but when i spen a week with my grandchild she had every day for breakfast either breakfast pizza or breakfast burrito and at lunch they served pizza and burritos or chicken nuggets. a lot of breading and fat and pils. When they start really healthy diets Call me until then that is MY child and I should be saying what is and is not for lunch and breakfast
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