A school ban on brown bag lunches? YES PLEASE.

A school ban on brown bag lunches? YES PLEASE.

There is a shroud of controversy involving a Chicago public school that has a ban on lunches brought from students’ homes because the administration feels the nutrition is better from the school cafeteria. To this I have two words: Right on.

It’s not that all school lunches are so fabulous. Hello, one trip through Googleland with the phrase “school lunch obesity” will remind you of your own school lunch days that included a pile of fat next to a greasy ball of sugar. Um . . . “teeny cornies and fries” anyone? But when what to eat for lunch becomes a lesser of two evils, like say, a can of soda and a bag of Cheetos versus an institutional tray that indeed includes vegetables and fruit, I have to go with the latter.

So what if you don’t agree. If the students were bringing organic whole grains with a side of mind-calming fiber we wouldn’t be having this discussion. In some communities that is the norm and no way should a school ban those type of lunches. But an administration doesn’t make decisions based on the goings-on of communities on the north shore, where beautiful Land’s End lunch boxes are carefully assembled with groceries from Whole Foods and mineral water by doting, post-career stay-at-home mothers.

The community with the lunch ban has a median income of around $32,000 a year. What does that buy you in the city? Think about it. Raising a family that includes school-aged children on a budget that would squeeze a single person in an urban area does not leave much room for expensive, healthy, delicious foods. It’s the American poverty crisis – the poor get poorer.

With the other basics of survival (housing, for one) taking up most of an income like that, there simply isn’t room in the family budget for the luxury of nourishing, delicious food. The default food group becomes junk. Hey, french fries and soft drinks are cheap and kinda tasty on the buds, but what does that sugar and fat do for concentration in the classroom? If a cafeteria in a school can provide a more nutritious alternative and the administration wants to better the community, I have nothing but praise for them.

In low-income communities, schools bear a greater burden of childhood development to begin with. If I were given that kind of responsibility, as an administrator I would make decisions about my students’ diet as well. Buh-bye, soda! Hello broccoli casserole thing and cardboard quart of milk!


My kid is a bougie urban brat! Here she is with her friend learning  a nutrition lesson in the kiddie kitchen at Make A Messterpiece on  a field trip to the Glen yesterday. (More on that later. Maybe.) Thanks, Lillian!

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  • i havent read up on the controversey, just heard about this in passing, but i am curious about something. The school that banned brown bags and require kids to eat the school lunches...are the school lunches free to the students or do the parents have to pay for them?

  • In reply to PinkHairedMomma:

    No, the lunches aren't necessarily free, but that is an option for qualifying families through the National School Lunch Program. Illinois State Board of Education website:

    [Any child at a participating school may purchase a meal through the NSLP. Participating schools and institutions must provide free and reduced-price breakfasts to eligible children. Children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the poverty level are eligible for free meals. Those between 130 percent and 185 percent of the poverty level are eligible for reduced-price meals. Children from families with incomes over 185 percent of poverty pay full price, though their meals are still subsidized to some extent.]

    Hope you're holding up, Michelle!

  • In reply to VelvetMinxx:

    Well then im gonna have to stand on your side. Nurtition vs cheetos and soda? Im thinking the school is right. Who knows the veggies might help those kids develop and grow and aid them in pulling themselves out of poverty down the road. I know the cheetos diet wont!

  • In reply to VelvetMinxx:

    and thank you! Im doing okay. Bored and ready to birth this beast! :)

  • In reply to VelvetMinxx:

    hmmm... I'd still send my kid to school with a brown bag. Why? I won't have a school telling me what my kid should/shouldn't be eating, number one. Yeah, I would be THAT mom.

    Number two- If you're forcing me to pay for that stuff- ummm no way. What about those who make too much to qualify for free lunches but don't necessarily make enough to BUY a kid's lunch every day? (growing up, my family fell into this category)

    Number Three- It's just plain not right~ would you want someone pushing THEIR morals/ideals/values on YOUR kids? Um, I think not.

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    Wow, just wow at the Elitism from this Jenna Myers Karvunidis or more aptly named High Gloss and Sauce...

    Yeah we could all just pay for someone else to make sure our children are feed up to the "standards" but what of the children who have specific religious, cultural beliefs, what about diabetic or allergenic children? Or the multitude of other needs that said child/children need? Or this garbage of entire Vegan meals (which with a lack of protein/nutrient/tastiness is a general no-no for developing children)?

    Sorry miss but children need more attention then just the "regulatory kids meal" and this Whole Messterpeice is garbage. Utter, utter garbage.

    For a child who brought their own lunch to school other then buying into your garbage well your point is moot. A mother who sends a meal for their child cares more then some lunch-lady/student.

    Get over yourself.

  • In reply to Adam Mason:

    I didn't explore this in the post, but there are exceptions for special diets etc. Apparently it is a very loose policy and the slightest parental involvement or concern negates it.

    The problem is the mothers aren't caring and are not packing lunches. The kids are stuffing their own junk in their bags and trying to learn while being fueled on chips and coke. The administrator is trying to pick up where the parents are lacking for the sole purpose of bettering the student.

  • No argument on the idea that health should be a priority. I can not agree that it is the schools responsibility to take over from the parents period. We already have too much government. What the schools should be doing is teaching what is good for you and why. Having open baskets of the particular food they may be studying could possibly entice the children to give it a try and certainly it is a lot less threatening atmosphere. Giving points or rewards for the children who are willing to give it a try is always a good incentive for the child to at least try one. Developing a good working curriculum and having a goal of each class to eventually teach how to make wise decisions as well as understanding why. I am sure that within a reasonable time frame, the kids would be on their on and eating a healthy lunch by choice. No grumbling kids or parents as it is not required but when the lesson is learned it becomes a simple choice. I have seen this method work when my children were in school way back when and there was a big anti-smoking campaign. Educating the younger children utilizing a well thought out agenda worked exceptionally well. As I recall when the children grew and became old enough to sneak a cigarette it just didn’t happen. I was a smoker at that time so my children were at a disadvantage, yet they never had a desire to smoke as they knew the real hazards of smoking. The same principals apply to lunch and we can do it without the government dictating what the children shall eat. An unexpected plus is that food waste would be reduced enormously. A simple application of common sense is all it takes and it would be unreasonable to expect the government to exercise any of that. Have a great day

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