Home > Chicago, schools > School Thinks Moms Are Too Dumb to Make Kids’ Lunch

School Thinks Moms Are Too Dumb to Make Kids’ Lunch

April 13, 2011


cafeteriaIt was only a matter of time really. Our kids come home from kindergarten telling us that we’re not as smart as the teacher. Now a Chicago school has told all parents they’re too dumb to craft a healthy enough lunch for their kids. They’ve enacted a school-wide ban on the homemade lunch.

The kids now have the option to buy lunch or … well buy lunch (unless they have a medical condition and a doctor’s note). And all this is in the name, of course, of making the students healthier. Let me be the first to say bull-pucky! If I can’t make healthy enough food for my child, pray tell me, why are you even letting me be her parent?

Are you going to take her shoe shopping too? How about finding an orthodontist? Paying for it? Yeah, that’s what I thought. I’m not responsible enough to take care of my kid … until it starts to inconvenience them.

Making all kids eat school lunch is easy for a school. There are no fights between the haves and the have nots. No separate lines for the “buyers” and the “carriers.” And the cafeteria has an almost exact count for food orders. No more wasted food. It’s perfect really — for the school.

But the news that a school building could be better able to meet an individual child’s needs is more than a little ironic considering schools are being called out more and more in recent months for painting kids with a broad brush rather than attempting to work with the individual. And what is a one-size-fits-all lunch program other than a washing away of a child’s individual needs?

Take, for example, the way we balance our kids’ food, meal to meal, snack to snack. It’s a process for most parents. We know that Little Johnny had yogurt for breakfast, say, so we don’t want too much dairy at lunch because too much dairy makes him impacted. It’s not a major medical issue — so no doctor’s note — but it’s something you work on because you’re a good Mom. But oh no, there goes that careful plan, Mom, because every kid at school is getting a nice, healthy box of milk for lunch. So much for knowing YOUR kid!

And we all know school food is healthier, right? Land of the ice cream treats at snack time and the hot meals that include a hamburger, fries, and a veggie (yes, fries, the other vegetable). I wish I was kidding. One of the scariest lunches on my kid’s school lunch menu gives the kids the option of “mozzarella sticks, fries, veggie.” So, kids, gather round for some starch, some fat, and, heck, we’ll throw a vegetable in there. But who needs protein?

It’s no wonder news of this ban came out in the Chicago Tribune just as the folks at Pew and Robert Wood Johnson have come together to release a poll about school lunches and how much Americans hate them. In fact, 78 percent of American voters (that’s about three out of four Americans) “believe that schools should be required to meet higher nutrition standards for all foods they serve or sell to students.” This from a new poll conducted by the bipartisan team of Hart Research and American Viewpoint and commissioned by the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project.

Most Americans don’t think schools are feeding our children well, and schools want to jump on their high horse and tells us they can do it better? Yes, there are parents who absolutely stink at making lunch. Bans on soft drinks wouldn’t be such a bad idea. Maybe a request that kids have only one “junk” food snack in the lunchbox? But don’t tell me I’m not responsible enough with my kid’s health if you can’t do any better.

  1. April 13, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    As a teacher in the UK I can see this one from both sides. I teach in a fairly deprived area and many of my children come in with awful packed lunches – one of my nine year old children today had two packets of crisps, a jelly, a full size Mars bar and a sausage roll.

    Our school dinners have been a huge political issue in recent years. Our menus describe things in certain ways that are slightly misleading but are actually healthier than they appear – today there were chicken nuggets made from quorn (a soy-protein meat substitute), by calling them chicken nuggets many more children chose to have them, but they were actually far healthier than something you’d find in McDonalds! There’s also a limit that chips (fries) can only be served once a week. We have a ‘Free School Dinners’ scheme where families with low incomes are eligible to claim free meals for their children – this has an impact on our school funding – so we encourage those who are eligible to take it.

    Some schools in the UK have put junk food bans in place and these are generally supported in better off areas – whereas the areas where the parents need the encouragement to provide a healthier lunch generally turn around and say that the schools can’t tell them what to do…

    It’s a very emotive subject here…

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