Should elementary schools ban fast food during school hours?

Illustration for article titled Should elementary schools ban fast food during school hours?
Photo: anatols (iStock)

The school year got off to a bumpy start in Richmond, Missouri, where Dear Elementary school posted the following new policy on its Facebook page:


The ban appears to have affected the entire district. Comments on that post included parents both for and against the new anti-fast-food rule. Reading between the FB lines, it seems that a popular way to celebrate your kid’s birthday at Dear Elementary was to show up with some fast food and surprise them at lunch. Because nothing says happy birthday like a Happy Meal, amirite?

Kansas City station Fox4 stepped in, quoting parents who accused the school of overstepping: “It’s up to parents what their children eat.” Another Facebook commenter agreed, “The schools [sic] sole responsibility is to provide a safe, positive learning environment for my children to get an education. They are not, and will not be making parenting decisions for my children.”

As a parent, it’s difficult for me to comment because I can’t even imagine a scenario that would involve fast-food delivery at my kids’ public school. I’m barely allowed in the office to bring them a forgotten water bottle (they run a tight ship over there, and rightly so). Granted, I don’t imagine the school lunches, unfortunately, are all that nutritious (do my kids really eat that piece of fruit if I’m not standing over them?), or that a box of Lunchables (a.k.a., “Mom gives up”) offers many more nutrients than that Happy Meal does.

But (and this is a big but), isn’t fast food acknowledged as a horrible habit to get into, especially at such a young age? If this was a ban at a high school, I would say, yep, that ship has likely sailed. Elementary school, though, seems like a prime opportunity to get the kids to pack their own lunches if they don’t like the school lunch (believe me, I’m trying), and not fall back on a 10-piece box of nuggets, as this one dad suggests as a convenient Dear Elementary cafeteria drop-off. Yes, parents should be in charge of their child’s diet decisions, but hopefully those decisions would be good ones. As I’ve learned with my own picky eater conundrums, I can’t force-feed my kid broccoli, but I can still make it available (or perhaps dump a cheese sauce on it) until they finally cave. If I offered them McNuggets instead? Broccoli would not stand a chance.

I am sadly familiar with the drive-thru escape route to feed a starving kid post-soccer, or on a Friday night when I barely have the energy to steer the car correctly. Undoubtedly, Dear Elementary parents, there will be plenty of Happy Meals in your child’s future. Maybe just not at school.

Gwen Ihnat is the Editorial Coordinator for The A.V. Club.



A) School Lunches, at least in 2009 and I find no evidence to see that this has changed, were not required to meet the same standard of safety and quality as fast food restaurants.

B) In 2014, USDA found that over 80% of school lunches did not meet requirements that were set by the USDA

C) This is classist, not every mommy has time to cut the crusts and make smiley face pizzas for the kids. Working two jobs makes it difficult to spend the time required to make a healthy lunch.

D) This is a money grab for the school to drive traffic to the cafeteria.

E) Although teaching kids about nutrition is certainly in the purvey of the school system, this menu

Says it all -

Cinnamon Roll!

Breakfast Nachos!

Biscuits and Gravy!

And lunch

Is even better!

Taco Salad (Trump’s Favorite!)

Chicken Bacon Ranch Salad!

TLDR; These idiots need to get their stuff together before banning an inexpensive easy option for parents.