Debate: Will banning packed lunches from school make kids healthier?

As an elementary schooler, one of my favourite possessions was my Jem and the Holograms lunch box. Each day, I’d

lunch

As an elementary schooler, one of my favourite possessions was my Jem and the Holograms lunch box. Each day, I’d open it to find a lunch that catered to my every finicky eating whim (for example, there was a time when I’d only eat sandwich fillings that started with the letter "T") and a little handwritten note from my mom with a reminder that she loved me. Opening my lunch box was my daily connection to home and I took comfort in eating what my parents packed. While making a healthy school lunch each day was time-consuming for my working parents, I can’t imagine what I would have eaten had my schooled banned my parents from sending me off with my turkey and tuna sandwiches.

Well, a school in Chicago is doing just that. According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, the Little Village Academy has banned children from bringing packed lunches from home. Here’s the reason principal Elsa Carmona gave the Tribune:

"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)."

Carmona instituted the ban six years ago because she says she saw kids bringing unhealthy food from home. Now parents are protesting the rule, saying that the students often don’t eat the school-provided food and that they can make healthier meals for their children themselves. One grandparent told the Tribune that her child is a picky eater and should be able to bring his own meal. The report also points out that the ban creates a greater profit for the school district’s food provider.

Do you think Canadian schools should institute lunch programs and ban home-packed lunches? Or is this idea going to make the childhood obesity epidemic worse?

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