When it Comes to Lunch, Principal Knows Best?
When it comes to providing meals for children you would think parents know best, but one school in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood has banned home made lunches. The principal at Little Village Academy said she started the policy six years ago because she saw kids bringing "bottles of soda and flaming hot chips" as their lunch so she changed her schools policy to provide for better nutrition for her students. For six years this has been her school policy with no issue, so why the firestorm now?
A local reporter happened to be at the school as part of a tour of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) for a story on how kids liked the new healthier lunches. While visiting this particular school she noticed many of the kids throwing out their meals untouched and started talking to the students. One seventh grader saw this as his chance to voice his discontent and started rallying his fellow students in chants of “We should bring our own lunches! We should bring our own lunches!” So is this student a revolutionary championing for better school lunches or just a rabble rouser?
The internet is a buzz with this story claiming everything from the stripping of parental rights to championing the principle in her efforts to think outside of the box to get her kids to eat healthy. She has taken a lot of heat from the press this week and in a follow up the Tribune reported that since the principal had taken so much slack in the media she had stopped enforcing the policy. Good job media, you forced change! But was it the right thing to do?
Not one of the stories I read talked about the school itself, just the shocking policy. According to CPS the Little Village academy is 99.9% low income and 99.6% Hispanic. Why is this important? I think it goes greatly in explaining the principles motives and why for her school, it was probably the right choice.
Low income students qualify for the school lunch program, meaning that the meals are provided free of charge to the family. That means that 99.9% of Little Village’s students qualify for the lunch program. If your family budget is extremely tight and your child qualifies for free a lunch you are probably taking it. I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that the students the principle saw bringing “sodas and flaming chips” were not lunches packed by parents but were rather what the student found or could buy with their own money and were brought because they didn’t like the school lunch. Yes, many people can make as healthy or healthier meals for less than the $2.25/day that the school lunch costs as one mom is quoted in the story. However it appears that in this case that wasn’t happening. It’s important to note as well that the school that mother was from has only 35% low income students, a completely different neighborhood with very different demographics.Continued on the next page