school lunch ban

Chicago School Bans Homemade Lunches

In an attempt to make lunches healthier, a Chicago school principal bans homemade packed lunches. Is this a good idea? Take our poll.

Chicago School Bans Homemade Lunches

Bag ban: Homemade lunches are no longer welcome at a Chicago school.

RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Your gut feeling may be that packing a homemade school lunch for your child would be healthier than a chocolate milk, white bread, sugar-laden, processed, vending machine–sourced unhealthy school lunch. But one Chicago school disagrees, and has banned homemade school lunches, according to a Chicago Tribune report. (The Tribune now reports that the school is not enforcing the ban after widespread media attention.)

But some healthy-school-lunch advocates believe that as long as the school is truly serving healthy, tasty food (not chemical-containing processed food with a mile-long list of ingredients), a school ban on lunches from home could actually benefit kids. "When you do this, there's no peer pressure about what to eat and what not to eat," explains author and healthy-school-lunch advocate Chef Ann Cooper, known as the Renegade Lunch Lady. "There's no trying to get one kid to eat broccoli when another kid is eating Lunchables."

In fact, Cooper previously worked at The Ross School in New York, where children did not bring lunch from home, in an attempt by the school to curb eating junk food during school hours. "I believe, as educators, we need to educate the entire time kids go to school. That means we have to use the lunch period as part of that day," says Cooper, who notes that this can only be done successfully if the school cafeteria is serving healthy food—not chicken nuggets, tater tots, corn dogs, and reheated frozen entrées.

Administrators at the Chicago school now making headlines with its lunch ban, Little Village, have told reporters that the no-homemade-lunch policy restricts students from bringing soda, chips, and other junk food to lunch, forcing them to eat what they call a healthier school lunch. But the ban raises many questions, such as what about the kids who had been eating healthy brown-bag lunches from home? Beyond that, unless the school café is preparing food with fresh ingredients, students are likely being exposed to the chemicals that often lurk in processed foods, ones that are detrimental to children's health, such as BPA, artificial food dyes, and pesticides, as well as genetically engineered ingredients.

Here's what to do now to ensure healthy school lunches before your child's school tries to enact a homemade-lunch ban.

• Sample the state of your kids' school lunch. Cooper suggests actually going to your child's school and eating the school lunch. Parents' palates could help spark healthier school lunches in the district. Meet with the school board after your sampling to find ways to cut excess sugar, fat, and salt from school lunches. Parents can also ask to read the school's wellness policy, or attend board meetings, in an attempt to start making school lunches healthier.

• Embrace bento boxes. Tap into Japanese tradition and use these bento box recipes to create healthy meals for your child to take to school. You can use these handy boxes that promote small portion sizes in very simple ways, too. Instead of buying packaged, processed foods of any type, Cooper recommends using the compartmentalized, little boxes and filling with cut up fresh fruits or veggies, and serving with dip. You can also serve half a sandwich or wrap and serve with some dried nuts or fruit in the little compartments. "It doesn't have to be a big deal," says Cooper. "Include your kids in the process. That's the best thing to do."

• Be wary of school soda replacements. If you've managed to get your child's school to pull soda from school vending machines, make sure the replacement drinks aren't also laden with sugar, artificial food coloring, and other harmful ingredients. Here's an example of a healthy swap: In place of Gatorade, stock them with organic electrolyte-enhanced water Olade, which has 20 calories per 16-ounce bottle.

• Channel a chef. Chefs are taking a major interest in healthy school lunch initiatives. The main point? Healthy food can't be boring. Team up with a local chef with an interest in sustainable, delicious food choices, and see if he or she can help your child's school develop a more palatable healthy lunch plan. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Chefs Move to Schools website can help you connect with a local chef.

• Snag safer school gear. Want to protect your child from other sources of unhealthy chemicals, such as toxic school supplies? Veto vinyl backpacks, snag stainless steel straws, and check out these other options in Your A+ Guide to Green School Supplies.


Published on: April 12, 2011

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I think that this is a good

I think that this is a good initiative, at least for two reasons. First of all, at school all should benefit from the same education and treatment. Second of all, while I was studying in some Post-Graduate programs I've notice that the homemade lunches contain all kind of unhealthy stuff.

I don't think you can

I don't think you can actually ban homemade launches in the first place. Some people forget that the USA is still a democratic country. Just saying... You don't need a marketing mba online to figure it out that eating unhealthy can only lead to health problems. Every parent is supposed to educate his kid as he/she sees fit.

I think that people who have

I think that people who have an online homeland security degree should be more interested about this situation present in our schools. What do you think about my opinion? Am I right to ask such action from them?

I visit your blog and found

I visit your blog and found lot of information and your sharing is such a very useful for me and others really thank you for sharing this great post. book reports | Admission essays | theses

homemade lunches are more

homemade lunches are more healthier but Chicago is looking to be political than worrying about the kids health black mold symptoms is the #1 issue with lunch provided by the schools to the kids or not to mention birth control side effects and it's feature on a 2013 movies coming in less than 2 years.


It tends to be an educational issue as well. People should encourage their offsprings to eat healthy food or at least lower fast food while combining vegetables with the rest of the food. Schools and other institutions (which are entitled educational entities) should help in this process. You don't need a degree in organizational leadership to come up with a few laws here in there to help people/kids with this problem.

School Lunches

Al Capone would be proud. Academic gangsterism at it's best

banning homemade lunches

Unless the schools are going to improve the lunches to be more nutritionally sound and give them to the students for free...then absolutely NOT!!!
If you require a parent to spend money on what YOU decide they should are in big trouble. What do you do with all the kids that have food allergies? Some kids can't even be within a few feet of peanut butter and there are other kinds of allergies. Wheat, peanuts, milk are just a few. (BTW...I'm allergic to onions.)
Please...are you kidding me? This is their last gasp at trying to control the masses. This is their way of trying to control the gaining problem of obesity. Problem is...most school lunches are worse than anything a parent can send to school. School lunches are full of fat, calories are mostly made of carbs and have little or no nutritional value. And, there are stupid government guidelines that they have to follow. (Check out Jamie Oliver's show)
Stop the mentality of it takes a village to raise a child. It takes parents to raise a child. Keep the government out of places they don't belong. Just try to educate (that's another story) the children on good nutrition.
Go visit an elementary school or get a copy of the school lunches for that week. You probably would not feed your child any of it. The high schools are worse. They are full of fast food and not a veggie or fruit to be found.
This is just another way the government is trying to take over our lives. Resist with all your might. You know the saying...give them an inch...they'll take a mile. Where will this end??? You are the parent...not the school. I would take my kid out of this school so fast they would not know what hit them. In my book...this is outrageous behavior by a government official and should be stopped cold. Kick that principal out of the school district, take away his teaching credentials and never let him near a school again. He is WRONG...WRONG...WRONG!!!!

homemade lunches..

I see all sides for the banning of homemade lunches. Some of the lunches I see brought in are so bad I have to supplement them with something healthy. I am not in a school that can afford to feed the children on our own and the cost of lunches would be much higher than they are now. Which is ridiculous for what they get. We started implementing that if your child brings in a lunch that is not appropriate we will add the healthy to your child's lunch at a cost to your account. That has helped, who wants to pay an extra fee for carrots or a piece of fruit. we offer Milk, 100% fruit juice, and water to drink.
Children's behavior and concentration levels have been link to their diet. the beter the diet the better chance the child has to succeed. I know that some parents do not understand and some do not have the finances, to feed a super healthy expensive lunch. But, if you look around you can find a huge array of foods your child can and will eat for less money.
That lunch meal is an extremly important meal to eat, some children do not get another until they come back to school the next day.
I do believe it should be the parents choice to pack a lunch or not, but I also believe it is our responsibility as educators to look out for those children also.

School lunches

My Grandson has dietary restrictions. There are times that he can eat some things that his school serves but most of the time he cannot. He receives a menu from the school every week. My daughter goes over the menu to see what he can and will eat. (He's also a VERY picky eater which they are working on.) If he could not pack then he just wouldn't/couldn't eat lunch.
School districts and states are in charge of children's education but should not be involved with their eating and FYI I am a retired teacher and so are his other grandparents.

banning homemade lunches

I didn't like any of the choices for voting on this, but I do oppose having a school tell parents they can't send their children's lunches. Are we next going to have school officials coming to our homes to tell us what we need to feed our kids for breakfast and supper? I would think most parents prefer that their children obtain healthy meals at school and save them from having to prepare them. But I don't think schools will provide the organic vegetables and dairy, and whole-grain, non-gmo, foods without additives that some of us strongly advocate for our own and our children's well-being.

So I very much agree with Lisa and hope that parents will continue to fight against government entities, including schools, who try to take away such rights as determining what our own children can eat for lunch!

Special Diets

I can only imagine the cost and time of the school trying to make a healthy lunch that would fit into all the special diets, whether due to health conditions or religious preferences...
But at least the school would ensure that the kids have a chance at eating a healthy lunch!
I'm sure it could work at a small school, but not an entire school system!

homemade lunches

I help out in my kids' cafeteria and I do see a lot of homemade lunches that consists of junk food packaged to look like lunch such as crackers and cheese, cold pizza rounds with pepperoni, sugar-laden yogurts, etc. If you look at it from a green prospective, I see a lot more waste with these too. However, everyone has different ideas on what's healthy. Personally, I don't like my kids drinking milk especially the chocolate milk. I think banning homemade lunches are taking away our rights as a parent with the assumption that the school knows better what to feed my children.

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