The Carolina Journal reported yesterday that a North Carolina state employee replaced a preschooler’s lunch with chicken nuggets because she felt what her mother had packed wasn’t nutritious.
What was in the lunch? A turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips and apple juice.
Not exactly Mountain Dew and a Ring Ding.
What did the four-year-old eat? Three chicken nuggets.
Oh, that’s much better. Wait, huh?
Reportedly, the Division of Child Development and Early Education at the Department of Health and Human Services requires all lunches served in pre-K program to meet USDA guidelines. That means that your preschooler’s lunch must have one serving of each of the following:
- two servings of fruit or veggies
Even if lunch is brought from home.
But how about if you’re a vegetarian? What about a lactose intolerant child? What if you have a picky preschooler who’s going to eat three chicken nuggets and call it a day?
The mother told Carolina Journal, “What got me so mad is, number one, don’t tell my kid I’m not packing her lunchbox properly.” Number two, they charged her for the meal.
Now, I’ve seen kids snacking on powdered donuts, brought from home, at our kindergarten, so I’ll acknowledge that not every parent knows or cares about nutrition.
But as the mother of one picky eater and one who has been eating lobster since he was two, I understand that all kids eat differently. Some eat everything you put in their lunchbox or on their lunch tray. Others dump the apples that come with the school lunch in the garbage, uneaten. (Witnessed, a dozen times over, at Lunch with Your Second Grader.)
I also understand that one meal does not necessarily represent the total of a kid’s nutritional intake. They may nibble on lettuce one night, but gobble down brocolli the next. Nutrition isn’t about one meal, but a week of meals. And you get into them what you can, when you can. Besides, even my “I’ll have the pan-seared sea bass” kid won’t drink milk. So why waste all that food?
And chicken nuggets: more nutritional that a turkey and cheese sandwich? Seriously?
The child’s mother said, “”You’re telling a 4-year-old ‘Oh, your lunch isn’t right,’ and she’s thinking there’s something wrong with her food.”
Maybe there’s just something wrong with the policy.
What say you, lunch-packing parents? Misguided or much needed?
Jen Singer will talk about the story on The Daily Wrap with Michael Caster at Wall Street Journal Radio. Tune in!