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Food Fight: Chicago Schools Ban Home Packed Lunches Under Students’ Protest

Posted on April 12 2011 2:00 pm
Lisa Graas has covered politics and religion at her blog since 2008. She has served as a crisis pregnancy counselor, youth speaker, mental health advocate and legislative consultant.
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Little Village Academy, by virtue of the “authority” vested in them by Chicago Public Schools (CPS), is no longer allowing students to bring sack lunches from home. School officials have lost all faith in parents‘ ability and/or willingness to provide “better” nutrition for their children than schools can, so they’ve taken over kids’ nutrition and squashed the role of the parent. In Chicago schools, kids can say goodbye to Mom’s peanut butter sandwiches and hello to whatever school officials decide they should eat…all based on the whims of the principal.

Conservatives are fond of the term “nanny state” to describe government overreaches, but forbidding parent-packed lunches goes far beyond what most people would refer to as a “nanny state.” CPS has soared headlong into full-fledged “Daddy Government” by claiming that principals have authority to push totalitarian nutritional policy onto families. Providing options for parents and their kids is one thing, but for a school to outright forbid lunches lovingly prepared by a responsible parent is a complete rejection of the centuries-old standard that the family is the basic unity of society and that parents have primary authority over their children. So it is with the Left’s utopian fantasies about the “ever-benevolent” and “all-knowing”government. To the leftist, government always knows better than individuals and families do…even on something as basic as what we eat.

Principal Elsa Carmona says that she enacted a total school-wide ban on sack lunches when students brought unhealthy food with them on a field trip six years ago. When I read that, I rolled my eyes because I remember going on field trips with my scout troop when I was a kid and that my mother would allow me leeway on my sack lunch. It was, after all, a field trip. A bag of Fritos with my sandwich on a field trip was not a big deal for my mom. Now, as a mom of four myself, I don’t have any problem letting my kids have a bag of chips and a soda in a sack lunch on field trip days. I could not care less what the school principal thinks about my food choices on field trip day or any other day. I’m the parent and I will decide what my kids eat. The field trip “problem” doesn’t appear to me to be a problem at all, let alone justification for taking away all parental control from kids’ lunch choices every single weekday.

Not surprisingly, some students are appalled by this policy and are protesting quite vocally.

Fernando Dominguez cut the figure of a young revolutionary leader during a recent lunch period at his elementary school.

“Who thinks the lunch is not good enough?” the seventh-grader shouted to his lunch mates in Spanish and English.

Dozens of hands flew in the air and fellow students shouted along: “We should bring our own lunch! We should bring our own lunch! We should bring our own lunch!”

Someone please listen to these kids and let them have the food their moms made for them!

Perhaps the most disturbing thing of all is that there are actually parents who believe government control over a family’s food choices represents an act of responsibility. One parent even went on the record to give strong implication that control should be the goal!

But parent Miguel Medina said he thinks the ‘no home lunch policy’ is a good one. ‘The school food is very healthy,’ he said, ‘and when they bring the food from home, there is no control over the food.’

Complaining that “there is no control over the food” that comes “from home”? What happens to a person to make him believe it’s a positive “good” for public officials to take away a mom’s right to choose what her daughter eats? What’s next? A ban on breastfeeding?

If Americans come to accept that public institutions have authority — over and above parents — to control what kids eat, there is arguably nothing left of parental authority for them to dismantle. If we can’t even decide for ourselves what our kids can eat, we might as well throw in the towel and hoist a Marxist flag up the flagpole. There is no more basic decision for parents than what we decide to feed our children.

If we capitulate on something so utterly fundamental to parenting, there is no freedom that cannot be taken from us.


Follow Lisa Graas on Twitter and visit her blog at



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