A four year girl old attending pre-school in North Carolina had the lunch her mother had made confiscated by school officials for allegedly not meeting USDA guidelines for a healthy meal. The child was then given a meal from the school. (“Given” is not the right term as we will see in a moment.)
When the child returned home, she handed her mother the lunch the mother had packed, a note from the school on the lunch contents, and a bill from the school for the lunch they had “given” the child.
The mother was understandably upset.
We don’t blame her.
First, let’s look at the contents of the lunch the mother packed:
The USDA recommendations for meals are at least:
As we said, the school confiscated the lunch because they allege the lunch did not meet the USDA guidelines.
Their assessment was wrong.
One serving of meat? The turkey on the sandwich.
One serving of grain? The bread for the sandwich.
The two servings of fruits or vegetables? The banana and the apple juice fulfill that requirement.
It should also be noted the cheese on the sandwich filled a recommended requirement of a serving of dairy.
Whatever turkey of an administrator, teacher or lunch monitor confiscated the four year old’s lunch didn’t even understand the recommendations they were trying to enforce. The lunch met all of the USDA requirements and more, and yet some chuckleheaded turkey took this child’s lunch.
Stop and think for a moment what the four year old must be thinking as the idiot turkeys take the lunch her mother packed away. Think about what the other kids must have said and thought.
“Your mommy doesn’t love you because she gives you bad lunches!”
How dare the school put a four year old in this position. How dare they embarrass a four year old like this. Even if the school had a legitimate issue with the lunch (and they did not) the way to handle the issue is to send a note home to the mother explaining the USDA guidelines. That approach would work if and only if you believe the school has the right to “approve” what parents give their kids for lunch. That approach only works if you believe that the school somehow has the right and responsibility to search kid’s lunches like some sort of “lunch Nazi.”
“Stop right there you four year old menace to brown bag lunches, and give me your lunch so I can approve the contents!”
In a pig’s eye.
We cannot fathom under what authority the school gets to approve or disapprove of a parent’s choice for a lunch, but also what authority does the school have to confiscate the lunch? Was the banana a weapon? Did the legislature suddenly ban turkey on sandwiches?
Was it a case where the staff of the school was upset at seeing relatives on the sandwich?
What right did did the school have to confiscate a legal product from a kid who was not causing a disruption at lunchtime?
Lastly, the school then had the gall to send a bill home to the mother.
Are you kidding us?
The turkeys in the school don’t understand the USDA guidelines, steal a kid’s lunch, embarrasses the kid, put the school’s (lack of) judgement against the mother’s judgement, and then wants the mother to pay for the whole episode?
The mother protested and called her state representative. The representative contacted the school and the school has apologized for the incident.
We now ask, “what does that apology mean? ‘We screwed up?’ ‘We made a mistake?’”
If that is the meaning and intention of the apology, it doesn’t address the issue at all.
The school should not believe it has the authority to “approve” what a child brings to school. A school should not be able to steal something from a four year old. The school does not have the right to steal from that four year old and then charge the parents for the theft.
This goes far beyond a simple mistake. This goes to the school believing it has the authority to override the decisions of the parents. It goes to the fact that far too often the people in charge of monitoring or implementing “requirements” and “recommendations” are clueless and don’t understand the requirements or recommendations.
To us, an apology is not nearly enough for this incident.
To us, the policy has to end and some school turkey’s head has to roll.
h/t to long time reader and friend Rick Heilman for this story.