Senate Passes Bill Banning Schools from Interfering with Home-Packed Lunch
In response to a highly divisive and controversial lunchroom incident in Hoke County that drew national attention, North Carolina law makers are seeking to ban school officials from looking at the nutritional balance of packed lunches brought from home and preventing them from making changes to the packed lunches.
The pre-kindergarten teacher at the center of the controversy has resigned. This Spring, the teacher admitted to telling three 4-year old students that the meals they brought from home didn't meet federal nutritional guidelines. The teacher then required the students to purchase a school lunch that included chicken nuggets for $1.25 each.
The school at the center of the unwanted attention, West Hoke Elementary School, said that the teachers have a responsibility to evaluate a student's lunch and determine whether it met federal standards. If something was missing, the staff were to provide it. One of the students at the center of this debate should have simply been provided with milk, not a complete lunch.
There have been no reports of any similar incidents in any other North Carolina schools. Still, a few furious parents had been pushing state lawmakers to help keep the 'lunch police' out of school cafeterias.
The state Senate voted unanimously to approve the bill, which blocks any facility that cares for children from providing those who bring a packed lunch from home with any supplemental foods or drinks. Under the current law, lunches must have one serving of meat, one serving of grain and two servings of fruit and vegetables.
Opponents say passing such a piece of legislation is a bad idea, stating that some parents send their kids to school with chips and soda. Under the new law, school officials will be unable to provide those children with a healthier lunch should a student show up with a candy bar and chips. They will, however, still be able to make a judgment and warn the parents that they will be reported to Social Services for such actions.
HB503 still needs to be approved in the House before it can move forward.