Monday, April 11, 2011

Chicago Schools Ban Lunches

The Lookout: "
Students who attend Chicago's Little Village Academy public school get nothing but nutritional tough love during their lunch period each day. The students can either eat the cafeteria food--or go hungry. Only students with allergies are allowed to bring a homemade lunch to school, the Chicago Tribune reports.
"Nutrition wise, it is better for the children to eat at the school," principal Elsa CarmonaƂ told the paper. "It's about ... the excellent quality food that they are able to serve (in the lunchroom). It's milk versus a Coke."
But students said they would rather bring their own lunch to school in the time-honored tradition of the brown paper bag. "They're afraid that we'll all bring in greasy food instead of healthy food and it won't be as good as what they give us at school," student Yesenia Gutierrez told the paper. "It's really lame."" (H/t Aaron)
 It is nice to see at least one school joining the TSA in its policy in regards to Bring Your Own Fluids, consistency is to be prized.
The idea that a school lunch is nutritious, pleasant and good for kids is a ribald tale of excess and ignorance. Its been getting worse for a while, here is a good blog on it, 'The Massive Disgusting School Lunch Issue', which if the title is insufficient to be a clue, the post is eye opening. 
To put it simply, the incentives are misaligned. The food production (Not cooking, production) for a school cafeteria happens regardless of the nutrition or satisfaction to its consumers. The kids don't pay for it, so there is little reason to make it well. The funding will continue to pass through, and the workers will continue to be employed in their mediocrity, regardless of the outcome at the table. There is probably a rational thought behind this food ban, and it lies with the funding for the school. The more students on the lunch, weather they eat it or throw it away, the more funding to the district. How do you approach 100% free lunch consumption? Mandate it. 
Contrary to this are parents, who have a very keen interest in the health and feeding of their children. If the kid is unhappy with the meal, the parents will hear it. If the child is receiving lopsided nutrition as a result of meals, the parents are going to be the first to notice and to rectify it. As adults have different nutritional needs, so do children. There is not a One-Size-Fits-All lunch option that can work for everyone, there is simply to much aggregation to meet the needs of individuals.
The caretakers of the children do not have the interest of the children in mind.
For those that have missed it, see how Coke stacks up with Milk in regards to lunch.  

EDIT: Best comment so far:
"What if they stopped making video games...or teaching kids to sit all day at their desks in preparation for their cubicle-bound jobs that are seriously bad for their health."

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