North Carolina officials have said there was a misunderstanding when a preschooler’s homemade lunch was sent home for not meeting certain nutritional requirements, but now a second mother from the same school has come forward to say the same thing happened to her daughter.
“It happens every so often”
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.
“She never eats breakfast or lunch at the school,” Zambrano said of her daughter during an interview. “We always wake up early and make her lunch.”
That day, Zambrano said she picked Jazlyn up from school and asked if she ate her lunch.
“She’s not picky about food but you have to be on top of her,” she explained.
When Jazlyn said she didn’t eat what her mother had made her, Zambrano went to her teacher and demanded to know what happened. She said the teacher told her an official had come through that day to inspect students’ lunches and that those who were lacking certain food groups were sent to the cafeteria. After she received her cafeteria food, the teacher told Zambrano, Jazlyn was told to put her homemade lunch back in her lunchbox and set it on the floor.
And in another case!
State agent inspects sack lunches, forces preschoolers to purchase cafeteria food instead
RAEFORD — A preschooler at West Hoke Elementary School ate three chicken nuggets for lunch Jan. 30 because a state employee told her the lunch her mother packed was not nutritious.
The girl’s turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips, and apple juice did not meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines, according to the interpretation of the agent who was inspecting all lunch boxes in her More at Four classroom that day.
The Division of Child Development and Early Education at the Department of Health and Human Services requires all lunches served in pre-kindergarten programs — including in-home day care centers — to meet USDA guidelines. That means lunches must consist of one serving of meat, one serving of milk, one serving of grain, and two servings of fruit or vegetables, even if the lunches are brought from home.
When home-packed lunches do not include all of the required items, child care providers must supplement them with the missing ones.
The girl’s mother — who said she wishes to remain anonymous to protect her daughter from retaliation — said she received a note from the school stating that students who did not bring a “healthy lunch” would be offered the missing portions, which could result in a fee from the cafeteria, in her case $1.25.