State snatches home-made lunch, subs ‘nuggets’

A four-year-old’s home-packed lunch — turkey-and-cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips and apple juice — was rejected by a state lunchbox inspector at a North Carolina elementary school, reports the Carolina Journal. Instead the preschooler ate three chicken nuggets from the school lunch – and nothing else. Mom was charged $1.25.

“What got me so mad is, number one, don’t tell my kid I’m not packing her lunch box properly,” the girl’s mother told CJ. “I pack her lunchbox according to what she eats. It always consists of a fruit. It never consists of a vegetable. She eats vegetables at home because I have to watch her because she doesn’t really care for vegetables.”

The state requires all lunches served in pre-K programs — including in-home day-care centers — to meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines, which call for one serving of meat, one serving of milk, one serving of grain, and two servings of fruit or vegetables.

As it turns out, the lunch did meet USDA guidelines. “With a turkey sandwich, that covers your protein, your grain, and if it had cheese on it, that’s the dairy,” said Jani Kozlowski, the fiscal and statutory policy manager for the division (of child development). The lunch has to include a fruit or vegetable, but not both, she said. Potato chips don’t de-nutritionize an otherwise health lunch.

So North Carolina hires lunchbox inspectors — at what salary I wonder? — to snatch turkey sandwiches from little girls. (OK, they didn’t take her home-packed lunch away, but she didn’t eat it because she’d been told  it was “not healthy,” according to her mother.)

The school principal says parents aren’t charged for the school lunch. The pre-K program is funded by the state for children from low-income families or those with special needs.

It’s a “non-troversy,” argues The League of Ordinary Gentlemen. The inspector was investigating the school’s compliance with the subsidized lunch program, which requires providing additional food to kids who don’t bring a healthy lunch.

A second mother has complained, saying her daughter was told not to eat her home-packed lunch (salami and cheese on a wheat bun and apple juice).  Instead, she ate chicken nuggets, sweet potato and milk. A letter sent to parents warns they may be charged if they miss a food group and their child receives supplemental food.


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  1. Stacy in NJ says:

    We know we are A Brave New World when there is such a creature as a “state lunch box inspector”.

    North Carolina should use the funds that pay the salary of this inspector for a “state homework inspector”, someone who inspects each students daily homework and fines parents when it is incomplete.

  2. The biggest problem with this story, of course, is that it’s completely false.

    • Your link has been updated. The story that blogger links to confirms much of the original story, and adds more:

      Diane Zambrano says her 4-year-old daughter, Jazlyn, is in the same West Hoke Elementary School class as the little girl whose lunch gained national attention earlier this week. When Zambrano picked Jazlyn up from school late last month, she was told by Jazlyn’s teacher that the lunch she had packed that day did not meet the necessary guidelines and that Jazlyn had been sent to the cafeteria.

      The lunch Zambrano packed for her daughter? A cheese and salami sandwich on a wheat bun with apple juice. The lunch she got in the cafeteria? Chicken nuggets, a sweet potato, bread and milk.

      I have to say, the home packed lunches seem much healthier than the school-provided lunches.

      There’s even a school memo, on school letterhead:

      The memo Jazlyn brought from the school outlines the necessary nutritional requirements students’ homemade lunches must contain: two servings of fruit or vegetables, one serving of dairy, one serving of grain and one serving of meat or meat substitute. Included with the memo was a separate sheet, this one a bill for the cafeteria food Jazlyn was served.

      The memo, dated Jan. 27 with the subject line “RE: Healthy Lunches,” was signed by school principal Jackie Samuels and said, while “we welcome students to bring lunches from home … it must be a nutritious, balanced meal with the above requirements. Students, who do not bring a healthy lunch, will be offered the missing portions which may result in a fee from the cafeteria.”

      So, the story’s infuriating, but not fake.

  3. The story is not completely false. To stay enrolled in a state subsidized pre-school the mom has to accept the fact that her daughter may be given chicken nuggets at school every day. What 4 year old will choose to eat a healthy turkey sandwhich over chicken nuggets?

  4. The AP reports that the school is now blaming a teacher for “mistakenly” telling the little girl to get a new lunch.

    Alwa\ys blame the teacher and not the people who make the rules he or she has to follow.

  5. Richard Aubrey says:

    MikeP. I suppose that depends on whether the teacher, or other food nazi petty tyrant, got the rules right or got them wrong.
    Somehow, I can’t see a teacher, who is supposed to be educated and at least somwhat in tune with the kids, and to be of the human species, to be unable to apply common sense.
    So either the teacher got the rules right but lacked the moral courage to let the kid eat her lunch in peace, or the teacher got the rules wrong and was such a nutcase as to want to enforce them. Little bit of authority went to the teacher’s head, I guess.
    It would be better for teachers to find another agent of The State to blame for this.
    Question. Is this business the business of The State?

  6. I’m sure this won’t be the last time we hear such a story.