Nanny state on steroids: Chicago school bans kids from bringing lunch … from home

Posted by: ST on April 11, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Yet another example of the state stepping in and playing the role of parent (via @coyotered9):

At [7th-grader Fernando Dominguez’s] public school, Little Village Academy on Chicago’s West Side, students are not allowed to pack lunches from home. Unless they have a medical excuse, they must eat the food served in the cafeteria.

Principal Elsa Carmona said her intention is to protect students from their own unhealthful food choices.

“Nutrition wise, it is better for the children to eat at the school,” Carmona said. “It’s about the nutrition and the excellent quality food that they are able to serve (in the lunchroom). It’s milk versus a Coke. But with allergies and any medical issue, of course, we would make an exception.”

Carmona said she created the policy six years ago after watching students bring “bottles of soda and flaming hot chips” on field trips for their lunch. Although she would not name any other schools that employ such practices, she said it was fairly common.

A Chicago Public Schools spokeswoman said she could not say how many schools prohibit packed lunches and that decision is left to the judgment of the principals.

Oh … so principals are apparently allowed to do this in the Chicago school system. Nice.

At Claremont Academy Elementary School on the South Side, officials allow packed lunches but confiscate any snacks loaded with sugar or salt. (They often are returned after school.) Principal Rebecca Stinson said that though students may not like it, she has yet to hear a parent complain.

“The kids may have money or earn money and (buy junk food) without their parents’ knowledge,” Stinson said, adding that most parents expect that the school will look out for their children.

Such discussions over school lunches and healthy eating echo a larger national debate about the role government should play in individual food choices.

“This is such a fundamental infringement on parental responsibility,” said J. Justin Wilson, a senior researcher at the Washington-based Center for Consumer Freedom, which is partially funded by the food industry.

“Would the school balk if the parent wanted to prepare a healthier meal?” Wilson said. “This is the perfect illustration of how the government’s one-size-fits-all mandate on nutrition fails time and time again. Some parents may want to pack a gluten-free meal for a child, and others may have no problem with a child enjoying soda.”

Mike Brownfield at Heritage’s Foundry blog responds:

Never mind that the kids don’t like the food (the Tribune cites examples of parents and students complaining). The government is doing what it thinks is best when they know parents can’t parent, right? That same logic has led to a ban on Happy Meal toys in Santa Clara, Calif., a ban on trans fat in New York City, a soda pop tax in Baltimore, Md., a whole host of “sin taxes” by Congress, and calorie counts on vending machines to scare us from snacking.

So where do individual responsibility, choice and liberty come in? They don’t. That’s one lesson kids will learn quickly in the nanny state.

I bet Michelle Obama is so proud.

Update – 5:20 PM: Aaron Worthing, guesting at Patterico’s, adds this:

There is a certain attitude around these days, most prevalently on the left, that schools should be used to teach children the right beliefs about everything (except faith, naturally), from environmentalism to socialism, to everything. It’s reason 44,324 why we should have vouchers.


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15 Responses to “Nanny state on steroids: Chicago school bans kids from bringing lunch … from home


  1. Old Goat says:

    So if the liberals can’t kill them first, they get a longer shot at destroying their minds.

    Gotta love that nanny state.

  2. Tim Gadsden says:

    Ok. This is getting out of hand.

    Were we not told that the schools all needed to serve hot lunch so we could subsidize it for the hungry and malnourished poor kids? We are now serving breakfast and even dinner in schools.

    Now we are being told all the poor kids are obese…

    May I suggest we claim victory on the war on student hunger, close all the school cafeterias for all three meals, offer one apple and all the carrots and celery you care to eat at midday snack?

    The schools would save billions. Kids would lose weight, and kids with normal BMIs could get a pass to bring their lunch from home :)

  3. Frederick says:

    So, Principal Elsa Carmona is guaranteeing that her lunches are healthier than anything a kid could bring from home?

    Would she like to stand trial if her lunches are proven worse than what a child has been packing from home, and that child then develpos a health issue while being force fed her food?

    This carries massive legal liability. She is opening herself and her school up to a wide array of potential lawsuits.

  4. Carlos says:

    “The government is doing what it thinks is best when they know parents can’t parent, right? ”

    That kinda sums up leftist philosophy anyway, doesn’t it?

  5. Kate says:

    Tim has a good thought there….since the federal government spends most of his education dollars in the school lunch programs and insists they are nutritional, why all the obese poor kids?

    What they should be doing is implementing fitness programs everyday for at least 30 minutes for all students.

    And all along I thought education was about what you put in your head not in your mouth!

  6. PE says:

    Today’s protection from unhealthful food choices, tomorrow the world.

  7. Lisa says:

    What they are also teaching the children is that they can’t trust their own parents. Only the school/teachers cares about what they eat, that their parents are idiots…

  8. Bill Fabrizio says:

    Good thing that Michelle and Barack supported aborting all those black babies or the State of Illinois would have had to provide a lot more meals! They really do care about the children — well, some of them!

  9. your mama says:

    Well now, if this is the case, I want proof that all the teachers, staff and the folks pushing this are at a healthy weight, practice healthy habits and can show they practice what they preach. After all, fair is fair.

  10. Drew says:

    I’m embarrassed, fellow commentors, to say I’m a resident of the formerly great state of IL, and the soon-to-be formerly great city of Chicago. We have lost our minds here. We elected Pat Quinn as Guv again, and he promptly increased the state income tax by 67%…….when nationally things went the opposite way.

    I’m very concerned, given budget realities, that more is yet to come. We have Iowa and New Jersey (NJ !!) running radio ads trying to attract businesses to move. And Wisconsin seems to now get it. Un-freakin’- believable.

    I love Chicago to its core, but this is just totally out of control. Richmond, VA, Charlotte, Florida, TX, AZ etc…… are all looking increasingly better all the time.

    If you only had the Bears, Sox and Hawks……….

  11. Noelegy says:

    Others on other sites have already pointed out that this is about control as much as nutrition. I wonder how much of it is about making sure that no student has a nicer lunch than any other student, so that kids from families who are maybe a little better off and who can afford nice packed lunches are brought down to the same level as the kids who must eat the “free” lunches provided by the school. We already make them wear uniforms, why not make them all eat the government-supplied Soylent Green gruel?

  12. Zippy says:

    Sounds like more gubment money to me.

    They already ban cupcakes for birthdays in some local schools. It’s either fruit or bagels for birthdays.

  13. david foster says:

    The more the schools fail at their fundamental task of…y’know…actual *education*, the more they seem to want to take on additional activities.

    This is not unknown in business, where sometimes you see a manager who is failing at this core mission being desperate to add new responsibilities in the hopes that he can keep his job by having something in his realm that he is *not* failing at…

  14. Glenn Bergen says:

    Isn’t this unconstitutional? I thought with Obamacare was struck down for forcing the taxpayer (person) to pay for something that was not voluntarily purchased. You can’t mandate personal choice.