Hey, parents. Let’s play a little game. The goal is to send your child to school with a nutritious lunch. Which would you choose?
a) turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, apple juice and potato chips
b) chicken nuggets
If you picked “A” … YOU LOSE. At least according to one North Carolina school system.
A Hoke County (North Carolina) preschooler recently had her homemade lunch (which included the items mentioned in choice “A” above) confiscated because a government agent conducting lunch box inspections felt it did not meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines. The guidelines state each lunch must include one serving each of meat, milk and grain and two servings of fruit or vegetables, and apply to home-packed lunches as well as cafeteria meals.
The homemade lunch was then replaced with the school’s CHICKEN NUGGET MEAL, which satisfies the guidelines. [Full story here]
The decision was made as a result of regulations put in place by the the Division of Child Development and Early Education at the Department of Health and Human Services, which requires all lunches served in pre-kindergarten programs to meet USDA guidelines.
Sound like an isolated incident? It’s not. Here is another story from across the pond. If students are found with sweets, chocolate, carbonated beverages or full-fat chips, the items are confiscated and held in the teacher’s staff room. The treats are returned, but only if parents ask.
A note sent to parents about the lunch box searches warned: “Lots of unsuitable items have been sneaking in lately. Therefore, we will have to look after such items until the end of the day in order to be fair to everybody.”
In the article, the Headmistress of the school says, “We were finding that some children could be bringing in crisps, a Mars bar and can of Coke with their lunches. This stance is trying to work with parents to provide a healthy meal for their children.’ Danegrove is not the first school to cause controversy with its healthy eating policies.”
SO. What do you think? Do we applaud schools for taking an active role in student nutrition – or it this the onset of a lunchbox gestapo? Should schools be responsible for strong-arming parental choices about their child’s nutrition? Or should schools stay out of the lunch box and keep to the classroom? And do these anti-sweet sentiments send an unhealthy message to kids? Does villainizing food instead of empowering healthy behaviors and choices (such as moderation) send the wrong message to kids?
Would love to hear your thoughts. Chime in.