Monday, September 10, 2007

School supplies and lunches

This is probably the one place you *won't* hear about Britney. Didn't see it, don't want to. Don't care.

Anyway, while the media was following certain walking, singing, and dancing disasters, I was talking with a friend about how devastatingly expensive the back-to-school weeks are for her family. If you have no children in public schools, you might not know that most schools send home a list of necessary supplies that must be purchased in the exact brands and quantities requested. It's an exhaustively long list that often covers two pages and can add up to one hundred dollars or more per child, especially when so many schools fail to send out their list until after the sales in August.

After many years dealing with public and private school systems, this was not news. What was news, however, was that more and more schools are making expensive, restrictive, and unhealthy rules about what can be eaten on campus. Some are mandating that only commercially packaged foods can be brought in school lunches, while others make all students purchase the cafeteria lunch. I assume they provide options for students with severe allergies, but I doubt allowances are made for those who simply prefer organic, whole foods.

Unfortunately, these are only two of many ways that conventional schools are bad for families. If you're stuck in the public school mouse trap (I postulate that nobody is truly stuck, but so many seem to feel they are...), I would suggest writing your school board and requesting the following.

1. Freedom to choose school supplies independently. This would make BTS shopping cheaper, plus allow parents to purchase recycled and otherwise earth-friendly products.

2. Nontoxic cleaners. While they're at it, can they cut back on spraying herbicides, pesticides, and insecticides? If our children must spend their days inside, let's make sure the air quality is safe for growing bodies and minds.

3. Nix the packaged-only rules if they exist, and insist that the lunch program offer vegetarian and chemical free options. When eating an organic apple is a violation of school rules, we have a problem.