I want to thank Kristin over at RoundyRounds (an up and coming blog that started out highlighting the author's creative do-it-yourself wedding -- and has nothing whatsoever to do with homeschooling but is still a worthy read), for the link to the following article about a special new rule in one of Chicago's public schools.
Before you read the article, I would like you to consider what you feed your kids for lunch -- both at home and when you are out and about or they are at school (if your children go to school, that is -- and thanks for reading if they do, by the way). On my worst day, the day when we are eating left-over miso soup for breakfast and washing the dishes with laundry soap because I just could not make it to the grocery store, I might offer our only two carrots, the last few eggs (boiled), the dregs from a box of cereal, left-over spaghetti, peanut butter pancake sandwiches from yesterday's pancakes, and tap water.
Even my ill-prepared lunches seem healthy next to the school lunch pictured in the article (admittedly not directly from the school in question, but this one is). And yet, the school has banned -- that's right -- BANNED -- lunches from home, claiming that the school lunches offer healthier options.
Now, I am all for healthy lunches, in and out of schools, and have never been a fan of vending machines (well, except maybe when I was in school and ate corn nuts and Diet Coke for lunch every day). I also feel frustrated that nearly every class my kids take outside of the homeschooling community centers around food (What child really needs a chocolaty, sugary snack in the middle of a class that runs from 1 - 2 o'clock?). So my (creamed) beef with this school's rule is not about the freedom to eat whatever unholy piece of hydrogenated frankenfood a child wants. My concern is that this school, with its processed, deep-friend tater tots and more-sugar-than-a-can-of-soda-but-they-have-calcium-so-they-must-be-healthy strawberry milks, claims it can do better than the average parent (of any income).
Because most parents love their children and want them to be healthy and successful. And while we often fall short of ideal when it comes to feeding our children, shouldn't we get to participate in the choices they make for their diets? And shouldn't we get to choose how we spend our food budget, rather than filling the coffers of the school cafeteria every day (at least one blog even suggests that the rule's main purpose is to garner more funds from the Federal Government)?
The aforementioned Kristin tagged this article with "another reason to homeschool". Rules like these do serve to strengthen my resolve. At the same time, not everybody can, wants to, or should homeschool. So, for those whose kids are in school -- I beg you educational institutions, do not follow the example of Chicago's Little Village Academy Public School. Instead, maybe you could put a little energy into googling the nutritional information for a typical school lunch, pictured below.
Strawberry Milk, 6 oz.: 134 calories, 21 grams sugar
White Hot Dog Bun: 120 calories, 220 mg. sodium
Hot dog: 180 calories, 560 mg. sodium
Tater Tots: 150 calories, 220 mg. sodium
I slice American Cheese: 60 calories, 250 mg. sodium
Pear Slices, 3: 70 calories, 15 g. sugar, 2 g. fiber
Ketchup, 1 T.: 15 calories, 167 mg. sodium
Baby Carrots, 3: 5 calories, 0 fiber
Total calories: 734
Total sodium: 1417 mg.
Total Sugar: 36 g.
Total Fiber: 2g.