Schools Ban Food Brought In From Home
It is amazing how far some schools are willing to go in an effort to control what their students are eating during school hours. I found news articles of two different schools across the country from each other putting different restrictions on their students lunches today. One is a low income neighborhood public school in Chicago, IL that is concerned with the obesity rise in children in low income families. The other is what is known as a public charter school in Tucson, AZ.
The school in Chicago has actually banned lunches brought in from home. Their students are required to either purchase and eat the school cafeteria lunch, or go hungry. The school is trying to provide well balanced, nutritious meals that are low in sugar. Unfortunately, it seems that the students are unhappy with the taste and quality of the lunches served. Looking back on my own elementary school days, I can hardly blame them! It seems to me that gray mush, whatever name they give it, is either too spicy or flavorless.. and either way not particularly edible! The other aspect to this restriction, is that now the parents are forced to come up with the extra $2.25 a day if their children don't qualify for the federally funded reduced lunch or free lunch programs.
I applaud this school in it's dedication to it's students' health and weight. But is this really the best way to go about it? It seems to me while this may (or may not ) help a majority of the students, it is an ill fitting solution to the entire problem. I wish I had a better idea to suggest. While some children are missing their lovingly cut into shapes homemade sandwich lunches put together by a family member concerned with the child's health and happiness, other children are grateful that the school lunches are provided and it may be the most nutritious food they eat all day.
The School in Tucson takes a different course of action. This school has no cafeteria, and the students must bring in their own lunches. In their guidelines you will read, before ever applying to the school, that there are certain foods that they restrict from being brought into the school. Among the offending foods not allowed are white bread (or anything made with white flour), fruit packed in syrup, items containing white sugar, corn syrup, fructose, or anything ending in "-ose", processed foods, and flavored chips or crackers. While this may seem to some to be a very restrictive list, it is very close to what my house already follows. If offending foods are seen in the school, they are confiscated. Usually a note explaining why is sent home, and the school keeps on hand emergency good food of whole wheat bread, peanut butter, and honey. Although the parent's may initially complain about the restrictions, the behavior changes they see in their children's school performance and over all behavior soon has their whole hearted compliance.
Two different schools, across the country from each, each concerned with bettering their students' health and well being. They are finding very different ways of handling things though. Kudos to both for the efforts they are making!