School does lunches better than home. Really?

No, this isn’t about peanut allergies. It’s
ultimately about parents being trusted (or in this case, not) to be able to
make sound choices for their own children.

The Chicago Tribune reports:

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.

"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.

Yes, some parents might be careless about
what their children eat on a daily basis, but does it make sense to base policy
on the lowest common denominator? Why punish the parents who know very well how
to feed their own children properly? If I were a parent with a child at this
school, I would want to be able to supply lunches from home, including (as an
occasional treat) things like candy bars.

Some parents see a negative financial
impact with such policies.

If their children do not qualify for free
or reduced-price meals, such a policy would require them to pay $2.25 a day for
food they don't necessarily like.

Of course, not everyone loses under this
system. In fact, friends of government may experience a net gain.

*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.

Ironically, under this policy, children are
still going hungry.

At Little Village, most students must take
the meals served in the cafeteria or go hungry or both. During a recent visit
to the school, dozens of students took the lunch but threw most of it in the
garbage uneaten. Though CPS has improved the nutritional quality of its meals
this year, it also has seen a drop-off in meal participation among students,
many of whom say the food tastes bad.

However, some parents see such policies in
a positive light, approving the school’s custodial role during school hours:

At Claremont Academy Elementary School on
the South Side, officials allow packed lunches but confiscate any snacks loaded
with sugar or salt. (They often are returned after school.) Principal Rebecca
Stinson said that though students may not like it, she has yet to hear a parent
complain.

"The kids may have money or earn money and (buy junk food) without their
parents' knowledge," Stinson said, adding that most parents expect that
the school will look out for their children.

It’s not just ironic, but an inversion of
values for schools to confiscate candy bars because they are so “unhealthy,” but
they’ll hand out condoms and sexual advice, even to young children. Schools
refer children to the nurse for contraceptives, STD treatment, or even abortion
counselling without parental knowledge or consent. (Perhaps children could keep
their candy bars if they brought a note from home stating that the bars were
not meant for eating, but for practicing how to put on a condom.)

The Tribune article declares:

Such discussions over school lunches and
healthy eating echo a larger national debate about the role government should
play in individual food choices.

What role should the government play in
“individual food choices”? Beyond education, absolutely none. They may educate,
inform, even inspire all they like, but they have no mandate to dictate to
families or individuals what to put in their shopping carts, or their mouths. I
start getting hives any time Big Brother claims to be “protecting me” from my
own choices. It calls into question broader notions of self-control,
moderation, personal and parental responsibility. To what extent are people
willing to let the nanny state take responsibility for the details of everyday
life?

 

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