Viva le...Brown Bag? CPS School Bans Mom-Made Lunches.

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It's getting more difficult to predict the target list for small time administrators newly empowered to ensure the well-being of their brood by interfering in private decision making. I have a feeling that this one sets a new standard - a principle on Chicago's west side all but banning outside food from an elementary school - but I'm also hoping it creates an entirely new generation of revolutionary.

Fernando Dominguez cut the figure of a young revolutionary leader during a recent lunch period at his elementary school.

"Who thinks the lunch is not good enough?" the seventh-grader shouted to his lunch mates in Spanish and English.

Dozens of hands flew in the air and fellow students shouted along: "We
should bring our own lunch! We should bring our own lunch! We should
bring our own lunch!"

Fernando waved his hand over the crowd and asked a visiting reporter: "Do you see the situation?"


At his public school, 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.

This nugget was the brainchild of one Elsa Carmona, who after seeing students eating chips and drinking soda on a field trip decided that it was her calling to become a one-woman crusade against underage calorie consumption. Now, to be really honest, this seems like a pretty run-of-the-mill, happy-clappy, Kumbaya-style policy which commonly flow forth from career educators whose handle on real world dynamics is minimal at best, but there's an interesting side: part of what motivated Carmona to undertake such drastic measures? Students who snacked on the newly-low cal lunches CPS put into place earlier this year weren't fond of their new diets and threw the food away. So, she apparently thought, if they won't eat her lunches voluntarily, she'll see to it that they do so or go hungry, which they apparently do (we'll get to THAT later).

Very well-thought out, obviously.

This is problematic for a number of reasons, least of which is probably that a one-size-fits all government brainchild is destined to fail at solving a complicated problem. Anyone who's ever met a kid knows that kids are weird. It's a full time job, sometimes, for parents, to figure out how to ensure a child gets necessary nutrition while skirting a number of irrational food phobias. My brother once at nothing but baked potatoes for six months. While clearly not the kind of nutritional need that would prompt an exception from Queen Elsa, it's enough to throw an entire meal cycle into a slow downward spiral. A public school, with hundreds of children, could never adequately address the needs of it's bizarre little population of dietary exceptions (not to mention, she clearly foils parents who would send their children to school with certifiably organic or home-cooked lunches).

Worse still, these sort of efforts are massive failures. The King of replacing school lunches with healthy food, TV chef Jamie Oliver, has seen his health-i-fying plans meet with disaster. Oliver, who claimed to change the eating habits of an entire British town by forcing the local elementary school to adopt a million-dollar school lunch program, actually managed to ensure students received higher-calorie, higher-fat meals than before (most of which were worse than McDonald's Happy Meals), and having a heavily negative impact on students scores, especially among low-income students. Turns out when kids didn't like the food they received, they didn't eat it.

Cut back to Chicago, where it turns out CPS has seen a dramatic decline in kids participating in the school lunch program because, and I quote, the "food tastes bad." I kinda wonder what's going on with the kids whose free lunch program means they don't have a choice. Actually that brings up an interesting question: Little Village's neighborhood could mean that most students there actually do qualify for free school lunches. One has to wonder whether it's actually in Elsa's best interests financially to increase the number of students fully dependent on CPS for meals, and not just in the long-term interest of her quasi-Marxist beliefs.

I kid. I kid. I think.

Seriously, though. I've started to wonder exactly what the American government's relentless interest in the health and fitness of its citizens actually is. I used to think it was just nanny-state liberalism, but lately it's started to get weird. If it's really something more interesting, like ensuring the nation is in tip top shape when they conscript us into the military to fight in the inevitable zombie wars, they're going to have to loosen Second Amendment restrictions so we can all learn the ins and outs of sawed-off shotguns, not just restricting our nacho cheese.

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  • Great read... I got the link to your post from Huffington Post.

    I deleted the word "congrats" regarding the link as we lean different directions it might not be as big of a deal for you.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/11/chicago-public-school-ban_n_847581.html

  • In reply to bthomas314:

    Not too different. :) I think it's a big deal, too! Thanks for pointing out the link...I was wondering where the attention was coming from!

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