Warning: my soapbox is going to be stacked on other soapboxes for this post. And I'm pissed, so expect run on sentences.
Chicago Public Schools has banned students bringing lunches from home. Yesterday I was alerted to this issue via a friend, and I've been pissed off ever since. How.freaking.dare.you.Chicago.Schools.
I "get" that the root of the matter is an effort to have kids make healthier eating choices, but this is going about it all wrong. Forcing a child and therefore a family to purchase a public school lunch is no more a healthy options than the soda and "flaming chips" you wish to ban.
Public school lunches are subsidized at the rate of about $.75 per meal by the USDA which in turn purchases disgusting fried surplus food. 20 years ago a chicken nugget was made out of chicken. Now it's packed with 14+ ingredients that are a) NOT GOOD FOR YOU and b) merely an outlet for factory farms to unload crops they can't sell because the US government gives them too much money to grow it in the first place. Corn and soy are not "health" food, and corn production alone is one of the top polluters of our waterways in this country.
So, now Chicago schools is inserting themselves in to student's homes and telling me that instead of the sandwich that I would send to school with my son made from homemade bread, homemade jam, and organic sunflower seed butter, I now have to shell out money each and every day so that my kid can buy processed chicken parts fried in corn oil and french fries. Or perhaps you would instead serve him CAFO beef that has been fed a steady diet of corn (not a natural food for cows which results in sickness which then results in them needing antibiotics), chicken manure, and god knows what else. Yeah, that is SO MUCH HEALTHIER than the sandwich, fruit, and cheese slices I would have packed for my child. And could you imagine if I had the balls to also include a homemade chocolate chip cookie in his lunch?
Sure, a lot of kids out there are bringing crappy lunches, and yeah I get that the district is trying improve nutrition, but this is not the way to do it. Instead of forcing a family to try and find the $2-3 per day required to purchase a lunch, how about opening a dialog about healthy eating? And don't talk to me about budget cuts and state standardized testing resulting in no time for talk about healthy eating. I come from a family of teachers and know 10 minutes at some point during the week can be found to address nutritious choices.
I'd love to see school lunches made more nutritious, but I understand that right now the cost of doing that is prohibitive. And if someone chooses to buy school lunch every day, that is their choice and I won't stand in the way of them making a choice that works for their family. The issue here is choice. What you feed your family is none of my damn business. Do Americans eat too much processed fatty foods? Yes, no one doubts that. But asking them to not bring chips to school so that you can in turn feed them fatty foods is NOT THE SOLUTION.
Growing up we packed our lunches most days, but buying school lunch was an occasional treat. And field trips were so much fun because we got to take super crappy food that was never allowed in the house like Lunchables and kool aid type drinks.
Thankfully, Chicago Schools have given parents an "out" if they still want to send a lunch to school with their kids. All they need is a doctor's note saying that their child has a medical reason that requires them to bring their own food. Attention Chicago parents, if you can find a doctor in your area, I have drafted a note for your doctor to sign:
Dear school official:
Please excuse (child's name) from purchasing school lunch each day this school year.
(child's name) is allergic to GMO bullshit food that is grown with chemicals that are shown to cause harm to people and the environment. (child's name) prefers to eat real whole foods that are not overly processed and have actual flavor provided via spices and healthy fats in lieu of MSG and artificial coloring and flavoring.
awesome doctor who gets it