Monday, April 11, 2011

No More Brown Bagging!

I was reading this article about lunches from home being banned in a school, and I really couldn't believe my eyes.  The idea that a school would actually ban children from bringing their lunch from home just blew me away.  As a parent who packs a lunch every single day, I have to say that would really upset me.  My daughter may not have any particular food allergies, but she is one of the pickiest children on the face of this earth, and I work very hard to send her with well balanced, nutritional meals that she will actually eat.  In fact, I only send her with a few  different combinations, but it is enough to keep it from getting totally boring, and the best part of it is that she actually eats it.
Every now and then on a whim, I pull out the school cafeteria menu for the month, and we go over it.  Occasionally, There may be something she says she would eat.  One day, it was the fruit, but only if they served grapes like that usually do, not on days when they served oranges, even though they don't tell you ahead of time which fruit it is.  She might be willing to try the cheese pizza, but if she didn't like it, she would never eat it again.  She is willing to drink their milk, because she actually loves all milk.  I think that is about it so far.
San Diego actually has very nutritional lunches in their schools.  I would love for her to eat there in the school.  I could save a ton of time, and because of the particular things I buy for her, I'm pretty sure a $2 a day lunch would save me money some days over the organic, super specialized foods that I buy for her.
None of that matters, though, if she looks at the food, thinks it is gross, and decides she would rather starve than eat it, and believe me, she would starve until she came home.
So, I'm not keen on the idea that school get to decide that my child has to starve.  I'm not keen on the idea that they would force me to pay for school lunches, either.  What if I had a child who wasn't picky, we didn't qualify for free or reduced lunch, but I could save money by sending them decent but cheaper foods?  Should I be forced to spend more than I can afford?
I think the school is crossing a line, here, as a public school.  If the school were private, it wouldn't be an issue to me.  You have  a choice when you select a private school, and you can either take what they tell you to do and be happy with it, or find another school.  Not so much with a public school.
I have to agree with some teachers I know who think that the focus should be more on teaching, and less on feeding our children.  I'm not saying that schools shouldn't offer food, they should, but I think we have our priorities all wrong when it comes to our educational system as it is now.  Children who excel and can pass all the standardized tests often get left out while teachers are forced to teach to those who need help to pass.  We worry that they are getting too many calories, but don't make sure there are enough books.  As a society, we need to re-evaluate what our educational priorities are, and start seeing to it that our kids get what they need, but not including more than what their reach should be.  Parents should parent, schools should educate.  I think it would just work better that way.