What's in your preschooler's lunchbox? Should it matter? One North Carolina family found out that it really does.
According to the Carolina Journal Online, preschooler at West Hoke Elementary School had her lunch of a turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips, and apple juice taken away and replaced with a school meal when a state agent decided the lunch didn't meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines. The guidelines say that all lunches in pre-kindergarten and in-home day care centers (including lunches brought from home) must consist of one serving of meat, one serving of milk, one serving of grain, and two servings of fruit or vegetables.
Instead, the child (who has not been identified for her privacy) ate three chicken nuggets provided by the school cafeteria. There was other food on the tray, but it was not eaten. The Carolina Journal Online reports that the mother was told via note that she'd need to pay $1.25 for the meal. She has since written a letter to her state representative G.L. Pridgen.
The child's mother told the Carolina Journal Online, "What got me so mad is, number one, don't tell my kid I'm not packing her lunch box properly. I pack her lunchbox according to what she eats. It always consists of a fruit. It never consists of a vegetable. She eats vegetables at home because I have to watch her because she doesn't really care for vegetables."
There has been a lot of reaction to the story -- mostly slamming the school and the policy. And to be honest, my knee-jerk reaction was to say, "Oh, no way!" But then I read a post by my colleague, Dr. Vincent Iannelli, that says while the state worker made a mistake in taking away the child's food, the policy itself is pretty sound. (Read his take here.) It's an interesting perspective. Still, I do have objections -- as a parent, I want to be able to control what I put in my child's lunchbox. To an outsider, the contents might not look healthy or even make sense, but that shouldn't matter. My child may have a condition that requires certain foods or she could simply be a picky eater and we are doing the best we can, hoping to even out our healthy eating with breakfast, dinner and snacks.
What do you think?
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