Chicago students not allowed to pack lunches

At a school within the Chicago Public School system, policy forbids students from packing their own lunches – they must purchase meals from the cafeteria or go hungry.  Or, as the article (read here) states, both:  many students buy a lunch, but saying the food tastes “bad,” they then throw most of it in the garbage.

Encouraging healthy choices and eating is a goal of all school systems, and having a Wellness Policy is state law in Ohio (click here for information on Milford’s latest Wellness Policy).  However, many people believe requiring students to eat only food prepared by the school’s food service provider is going too far – what do you think?  Please share your thoughts below, or feel free to email me.

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9 Responses to “Chicago students not allowed to pack lunches”

  1. Angela Pascale Says:

    It is absolutely going too far, not to mention quite expensive! I have 2 children in Milford Schools. This would cost me about $100 a month. I am capable of providing healthy lunches for my children that cost far less than a cafeteria provided meal. Plus, I know how much and what my children are willing to eat. I sincerely hope that you are not exploring this as an option for Milford Schools. Quite honestly, I don’t know anyone who would be in favor of this.

    • andreabrady Says:

      Thanks for the comment. I agree with you completely, Angela – I think it’s going much too far. Parents absolutely have the right to decide what their children will eat. The issue we’re struggling with, regarding the Wellness Policy, is a parent’s right to decide what other kids eat – which I personally do think is a problem. A lot of parents do not want their children to have certain foods, and it’s tough when those foods are brought in as part of a celebration. Not to mention allergies, diabetes, other problems, which also put the district at risk (plus the teachers and even the parents bringing in the foods).

      What do you think about the currently proposed Wellness Policy, that would eliminate food in the classroom except for snacks sent by parents for their own children?

  2. Larry Deel Says:

    I agree with both of you that forbidding lunch from home is overstepping the bounds of what a school district should be doing. I personally liked the lunches Milford provided when I was in school. However, I understand why some people would choose to pack instead.

    The other issue about bringing in foods for celebration is a dicey one. I guess the only good way to prevent a problem is to ban everyone from being something in.

    • andreabrady Says:

      That’s what we’re looking at, Larry. The policy is not trying to tell people what to feed their children, but instead support the curriculum being taught about what is healthy, plus protect our students, parents & staff members from unfortunate situations with allergies/health issues.

  3. Cathy Barney Says:

    I believe food should be monitored and controlled for those with life-threatening allergies. I have no problem with snacks being eliminated outside of the cafeteria. How does this affect after-school functions such as teacher dinners on conference nights, for example? I don’t particularly like the idea of replacing the snack with favors. Perhaps the district or individual building or PTO could find a creative way to mark birthdays that does not revolve around buying things, but celebrates the student.

    Taking away the option to pack is, however, straying too far. I still shiver at some menu options. Students do need to be safe, but parents must also take some responsibility instead of instituting no choice for the rest of the school.

    Thanks for the opportunity to respond, Andrea

    • andreabrady Says:

      Thanks for posting, Cathy. The policy would not affect teachers at all – breakfasts, lunches, after school functions for teachers are all fine. The food will be in the teachers’ area, not in the classroom or cafeteria. Extracurriculars for students are also not covered by the policy – it simply deals with the school day.

      I like the idea of a creative way to mark birthdays. I’m sure students, parents & teachers can come up with lots of ideas!

  4. mary gallagher Says:

    Tagging along on the previous article and comment about school parties: not allowing students to pack lunches is ridiculous on a number of levels: financially, personal choice, and again: food allergies. No way would I trust my child buying from the cafeteria and believe me, with a dairy allergy, any school would be hard pressed to provide a lunch everyday that was completely dairy free. There would have to be exceptions for students with allergies or I am sure there would be some lawsuits.

  5. Shirley Trester Says:

    I wonder what happened in Chicago to cause this lunch rule. Do you know? I think the government is going too far to demand buying school lunches.

    • andreabrady Says:

      Hi Shirley, thanks for the comment. I don’t know specifically what decided that principal to make that choice. It’s not a district-wide policy. At another Chicago school, just a month or so ago, a student died from Chinese food that was brought in. The restaurant assured them over & over there was no peanut in the food, but the girl died. The district does not currently allow Epi-pens at the schools, which some articles said may have helped her. From what I’ve read, this school’s decision had nothing to do with the other situation, however.

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