Moms

Cafeteria chaos: School bans lunches from home

April 12, 2011 at 9:09 AM ET

Packing school lunches for kids every day is no doubt a chore. But what if you weren’t allowed to?

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Mmm, mystery meat. This delicious cafeteria dish was served at a Chicago-area public school, but not Little Village Academy, which recently banned homemade lunches.

One Chicago school has banned lunches brought from home, the Chicago Tribune reports. Administrators at Little Village Academy, a public school, say the policy is all in the name of good health. Principal Elsa Carmona told the Tribune she created the policy after watching students bring "bottles of soda and flaming hot chips" for their lunch.

"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,” Carmona said.

Some kids and parents at the school beg to differ about the food quality, saying it doesn't taste good, and the Tribune reported that dozens of kids threw food in the garbage, uneaten.  We don't know what's on the menu at Little Village, but these photos of "an enchilada dish" are less than appealing. And really, when is the last time you sampled delicious fare in a school cafeteria? (I am forever haunted by the glue-like yellowish thing my elementary school called lemon pudding.)

Recipes aside, the policy leaves a bad taste in the mouth for plenty of other reasons.

Unless a student has a medical excuse to bring food from home, the only option other than eating cafeteria food is to eat nothing. (Think those kids will ace a quiz on an empty stomach?) And does something like glucose intolerance merit a medical excuse? What about vegetarianism?

Cost is another matter. What if parents don't want to spend money on school lunch because they can send less expensive food from home?

Related story: What is school lunch really like? One woman ate it every day, and blogged about it

Little Village Academy has good intentions of nutritional tough love. But have they gone too far?

What do you think? Should schools be able to ban homemade lunches? 

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