No Packed Lunches for Chicago Students


My mother made the executive decision to pack my sister and mine lunch when we first started school in America.  We would bring rice or noodles with corn for lunch while our friends ate hamburgers and French fries.  Eventually, our courage in hand, we ventured a bite of a hamburger and never went back, well almost never.  I still love to indulge my Asian taste buds with fast-food-Chinese-style.  There is nothing better than Americanized Asian food.  It is not a good representation of the true flavors of Asia, but it o-so-delicious!

My lunchbox was a buffer zone of safety and comfort while I got used to a new country and lifestyle.  Now, one Chicago school has a rule banning all packed lunches based on the grounds that cafeteria food is more nutritious. 

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Principal Elsa Carmona instituted this rule six years ago in Little Village Academy on Chicago’s West Side.  Six years later, we are starting to hear about it.  Has this policy been working all along or has the past six years been a trial run?  Either way, the students are upset over the rule and parents’ are questioning the economic impact upon their wallets.  For $2.25/day, a child can eat at the cafeteria.  That’s $11.25 for five lunches. 

I spend about $30 a week on groceries, which means my cost per meal is $1.43 for 7 days. 

It is most likely that the six years since this program got initiated, the economic recession kicked into full gear and new budget pinching practices have brought this issue to light. 

I’m not homeless but I definitely count all my change before spending.  These days, every little bit helps.  Economic issue aside, how affective is this program at Little Valley Academy?  Although the article doesn’t list any other schools participating in this ban, it does state that this decision is at the discretion of the principal. 

Some students do not like the food served in the cafeteria and regularly dump it without taking a bite.  How much food is wasted?  How much more nutritional is it really?  Is the school circumventing parental rights? 

A push for healthy eating in our children is an important issue.  Important enough to get the attention of First Lady Michelle Obama.  However, is this ban on packed lunches going to far?  Removing the typcial snack machine with chips and candy for fruit dispensing machine is one thing, but where do administrators draw the line?

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