Some Chicago schools ban some lunches brought from home

To encourage healthful eating, some Chicago schools don’t allow kids to bring lunches or certain snacks from home — and some parents, and many students, aren’t fans of the policy

A Little Village Academy student cringes at an enchilada dish served at his school. Many students throw away their entrees uneaten and say they would rather bring food from home. The school, though, does not allow students to bring in their own lunches, unless they have a medical condition or a food allergy.

By Monica Eng and Joel Hood, Tribune reporters

Fernando Dominguez cut the figure of a young revolutionary leader during a recent lunch period at his elementary school.

“Who thinks the lunch is not good enough?” the seventh-grader shouted to his lunch mates in Spanish and English.

Dozens of hands flew in the air and fellow students shouted along: “We should bring our own lunch! We should bring our own lunch! We should bring our own lunch!”

Fernando waved his hand over the crowd and asked a visiting reporter: “Do you see the situation?”

At his public school, Little Village Academy on Chicago’s West Side, students are not allowed to pack lunches from home. Unless they have a medical excuse, they must eat the food served in the cafeteria.

Principal Elsa Carmona said her intention is to protect students from their own unhealthful food choices.

“Nutrition wise, it is better for the children to eat at the school,” Carmona said. “It’s about the nutrition and the excellent quality food that they are able to serve (in the lunchroom). It’s milk versus a Coke. But with allergies and any medical issue, of course, we would make an exception.”

Any school that bans homemade lunches also puts more money in the pockets of the district’s food provider, Chartwells-Thompson. The federal government pays the district for each free or reduced-price lunch taken, and the caterer receives a set fee from the district per lunch.

Some Chicago schools ban some lunches brought from home


  1. school lunches are mostly the most unhealthy meals I have ever seen
    and if Elsa Carmona thinks breaded chicken is healthy I would like to know where she went to school for her degree! Maybe Elsa would like to cook dinner for the whole chicago area every nite so she can make sure every parnet is feeding their children according to her crazy standards. That would shut her up. Elsa you are not the food police.

  2. I doubt sincerely school lunches have improved any from when I was in K-12, which means they fall well below the standard of what my parents were able to provide from home.

    The sheer arrogance of Elsa Carmon & the rest of the district’s administration thinking to second-guess these kids’ parents on matters of nutrition when school lunches are frankly abysmal is disgusting.

  3. by banning home lunches they are making the company that provides school lunches a whole lot richer, its all a scam