Kathy Posner

Last week I wrote, “Breakfast Will Be Served on The Lido Deck,” about Chicago Public Schools (CPS) serving breakfast in the classroom. I did not agree with the concept, but after my friend Lisa explained to me how students would be humiliated if they had to go to the cafeteria, thus basically announcing that they were too poor to be able to afford to eat breakfast, I changed my tune. However, I will not change my view about the latest stupid CPS concept where students are being forced to buy lunches at school and are not allowed to brown bag it anymore.

The decision to prohibit packed lunches is the sole decision of each school’s principal. In an e-mail to the Chicago Tribune on this subject, CPS spokeswoman Monique Bond wrote, "While there is no formal policy, principals use common sense judgment based on their individual school environments. In this case, (Little Village Academy on Chicago's West Side) this principal is encouraging the healthier choices and attempting to make an impact that extends beyond the classroom."

I don’t understand how a principal can make the decision that a parent is no longer allowed to pack their own children’s lunches and force them to pay $2.25/day for cafeteria food.

When the Chicago Tribune visited a school they discovered, “At Little Village, most students must take the meals served in the cafeteria or go hungry or both. During a recent visit to the school, dozens of students took the lunch but threw most of it in the garbage uneaten.”

The Tribune also spoke with J. Justin Wilson, a senior researcher at the Washington-based Center for Consumer Freedom. He said, “This is such a fundamental infringement on parental responsibility. Would the school balk if the parent wanted to prepare a healthier meal?" This is the perfect illustration of how the government's one-size-fits-all mandate on nutrition fails time and time again. Some parents may want to pack a gluten-free meal for a child, and others may have no problem with a child enjoying soda.

Of course the big winner in all of this will be the CPS food provider, Chartwells-Thompson, who will make more money if students are forced to order cafeteria food every day rather than eating lunches brought from home.

I understand that school lunches are more nutritious than those served during my tenure as a student, but they are still horrible tasting cafeteria food. How can CPS force a child to eat mass-produced, re-heated slop instead of Mom’s meatloaf the day after?

Schools are for educating children, and Chicago public students consistently score lower on standardized tests than any other major city. Maybe the CPS Board should focus on why students aren’t learning instead of what they are eating. Let parents decide what goes in a child’s stomach and CPS what goes in their brain.