Food Industry

Federal Government Bans Packed Lunches From Public Schools

Apparently, it is not ok to send your kid to school with a packed lunch anymore, according to the Federal Programs Preschool initiative in Richmond, Virginia where Linda Brooks, stay at home mother of three, received the following note from her child’s teacher which instructs parents that packed lunches must be accompanied with a physician’s note:

Dear Parents,
I have received word from Federal Programs Preschool pertaining to lunches from home. Parents are to be informed that students can only bring lunches from home if there is a medical condition requiring a specific diet, along with a physicians note to that regard.
I am sorry for any inconvenience. If you have any questions concerning this matter, please contact Stephanie [redacted] the Health Coordinator for Federal Programs Preschool at [redacted].
Ms. [redacted]

You can see on the note some handwritten additional emphasis from a teacher which reads, “Ms Brooks, Please do not send a lunch to school unless a doctor’s note is sent in connection with this letter.”

Linda laments on her blog,

I went from confusion to dumbfounded to feeling being hurt knowing my child would come home hungry. Zion refuses eats what the school provide, I know this because he’s uber picky but after I received a note from his teacher last month that he hasn’t eat much and perhaps I could pack him a lunch. I did…

Until one day last week, I received this note and I was confused as wanting to know why and I called the health coordinator. Left a message hoping they would call back but they didn’t. So I was like, f this… I continue to pack him a lunch.

Then I received this with a little note from his teacher to not send a lunch from home unless a doctor’s note is sent in. Why do we need a doctor’s note? This is astounding on so many levels. How dare they tell me not to pack a lunch from home but they would force my child to eat? I know my child and I know what he likes to eat. But if he refuses, what is he going to eat then?

(via Linda’s blog

Packed lunches are a staple of American public schooling and American parenting. The Federal Programs Preschool initiative is funded primarily by the Head Start Program, a Department of Health and Human Services scheme that provides education and nutritional support for children from low income families. Under Federal Programs Preschool, children are provided with breakfast, lunch and a snack, stating

All children in Head Start are served breakfast and lunch, and a snack in the extended day programs. We provide one-third to one-half of the child’s daily nutritional need. All meals are USDA approved. Meals must be consumed during mealtime only. Food items high in nutrients and low in fat, sugar, and salt are offered to the children. Also, outside foods are not allowed. This includes goodie bags filled with food items during the holidays and birthdays.

But what this means when it comes to special cases is that a parent is being forced to pay with time and money for a doctor’s visit just to get a doctor’s note so their kid can bring a packed lunch to school, which isn’t always a medical issue but in Linda’s case a psychological issue and quickly becoming a political issue.

The flipside of the coin would be the government’s statement of health concerns brought on by packed lunches from home. User Johnny had this to say about it on StackExchange the other day regarding a subsidized preschool program in which his wife works:

There are a number of reasons for this policy at her school:

One is because they are a publicly subsidized program with mainly low-income families and they want to ensure that the children are receiving healthy meals that meet recognized federal nutritional guidelines. Parent supplied meals are often lacking in nutritional balance. (For example, in one field trip where parents did supply meals, one child’s “meal” was 3 different bags of chips.)

Another reason is due to allergies. They have a protocol that they have to follow to prevent children from coming into contact with foods that they have an allergy to, and it’s much harder to do this with meals brought from home as they have no way to verify ingredient lists or keep track of every child’s meals.

Another is storage and preparation. They have little staff time or space to devote to meal storage and preparation, and keeping track of dozens of home-brought meals would cut into the time available for meal prep.

Finally, there are liability concerns. They have no way to assure the food safety for a home-brought meal, as they don’t know how it was prepared or stored prior to arrival. Yet a parent may put blame on the school for improper storage if a meal is spoiled and sickens their child.

Another issue brought up by is that school lunches do not typically go out of their way to serve organic food, which means that our children are being forcibly raised on GMOs (genetically modified organisms), another way which biotech companies such as BASF and Monsanto have taken control over the food industry.

What do you think of this issue? Vote below!

Fed Govt Packed Lunch Ban
Should the Federal Government be allowed to ban packed lunches from public schools?
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