N.C. School’s ‘Packed Lunch Police’ Takes Away Parent’s Rights

COMMENTARY | An elementary school in North Carolina has come under fire recently as it was discovered that an inspector, dubbed the “packed lunch police,” has been policing the contents of preschool students’ home-packed lunches. According to The Blaze, multiple parents have been shocked to discover their children’s lunches were deemed not nutritious enough, with the lunches removed, and children being forced to purchase cafeteria food, which was deemed healthier than what they’d packed.

According to MyFox8, one parent cites how she had packed her daughter a turkey and cheese sandwich, with a banana, apple juice and potato chips, and was shocked to find out later that the lunch was determined not to meet nutritional guidelines. Instead, the lunch was sequestered, and her daughter was escorted to the cafeteria for a chicken nugget entrée, for which the mother was later billed $1.25.

As a teacher and parent, I find the practice of the “packed lunch police” appalling. Though I understand the school district – who even sent home a letter to parents informing them of required USDA nutritional guidelines – had good intentions, the end results are mind-numbing.

While fulfilling my duties for many years as a cafeteria aide, teacher and substitute, I have seen a wide variety in what qualifies as a child’s lunch. I’ve seen schools pass out lunch trays consisting of 100 percent frozen, over-processed or pre-packaged, mass-manufactured food items, or lunch trays swimming in French fry and pizza grease. I’ve seen students that buy a la carte, and go back to their table holding four bags of Doritos and six Ho-Ho’s, with a couple Mountain Dews to top them off.

I’ve also witnessed hundreds of students with packed lunches, who open up their sacks to reveal fresh fruit, homemade sandwiches, pasta or dinner leftovers, and – shockingly – even vegetables. Of all the lunches I’ve seen students with, packed lunches have won the nutrition battle over their cafeteria counterparts each and every time.

But this doesn’t disturb me the most. As a parent, I’m enraged that this school district – and the state of North Carolina – feels it is necessary, appropriate and within their rights to determine what my child eats for lunch. As a mom, that is my job – and no one else’s – to decide what is and isn’t suitable for my child to eat. The “packed lunch police” are, under the pretense of good intentions, stripping away parent’s rights with their nanny-state authority.

What is maddening to other parents, according to Carolina Journal, is that a school professional would tell a child that her mom didn’t pack her lunch right, making the child think her mom did something wrong. Other parents on MyFox8 commented that a school replacing their child’s lunch with cafeteria food could be dangerous to a child with severe food allergies or aversions, or disrespectful to the beliefs and traditions of certain groups or religions. Overwhelmingly, commenters agreed that parent’s rights were infringed upon and the school district and state were in the wrong, with a barrage of negative reactions to the story.

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