School lunches have always been the subject of much discussion within a school cafeteria. But, lately, they've gotten even more attention: First Lady Michelle Obama and lawmakers passed the child nutrition bill aimed at bettering school lunches, last December. And star chef Jamie Oliver is leading a national campaign to prove school lunches can be healthful and cheap.
Today, the Chicago Tribune brings us word that one principal is facing the issue by taking on the old brown-paper-bag staple. Elsa Carmona of Little Village Elementary Academy in Chicago's West Side has prohibited students from bringing pack lunches from home, unless they have a medical excuse. The Tribune reports:
"Nutrition wise, it is better for the children to eat at the school," Carmona said. "It's about the nutrition and the excellent quality food that they are able to serve (in the lunchroom). It's milk versus a Coke. But with allergies and any medical issue, of course, we would make an exception."
Carmona said she created the policy six years ago after watching students bring "bottles of soda and flaming hot chips" on field trips for their lunch. Although she would not name any other schools that employ such practices, she said it was fairly common.
A Chicago Public Schools spokeswoman said she could not say how many schools prohibit packed lunches and that decision is left to the judgment of the principals.
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Alabama parents protested a school's rule that barred students from bringing any drinks from home, as ice water was provided at lunch. East Syracuse, New York schools have outlawed cupcakes and other desserts. And schools around the country have kicked out chocolate milk and soda vending machines. Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin even showed up in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, with dozens of cookies to express her disdain for a debate in the state about recommending teachers limit the number of times per month the sugary treats are eaten in classroom birthday celebrations.