PA School To Search Lunches, Confiscate "Excessive" Snacks Packed by Parents

Thomas Smith

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A Pennsylvania school district reportedly said in a Facebook post that it would begin checking students’ lunches, searching for “excessive” numbers of snacks like chips or sodas. If it found too many such snacks in a student’s lunch, it would confiscate them, even if they were packed by the student’s parents.

The post, which has since been deleted but was reported on by news sources including the Miami Herald, reportedly said that “shopping bags full of chips” were being brought into the school, as well as candy and other snacks the school district deemed unhealthy. To stop the practice, the school set a limit on the number of snacks each student could bring.

That limit could be enforced by school officials searching students’ lunches. If they found an excessive number of snacks, officials would confiscate them. The limits reportedly applied even if a student’s parent packed the lunch and chose to send them with a certain number of snacks or drinks.

The post reportedly sparked widespread controversy, both within the school district and beyond. Some parents agreed with the policy, saying that it was in the best interest of students’ health. Others reportedly view the move as the school policing student lunches.

The idea of confiscating food from students, presumably without compensation, also likely struck a negative note in a district that suffers from a great deal of poverty. According to census data, Aliquippa City suffers from a poverty rate exceeding 25%. Median household income in the city was only $36,451. That likely means parents can ill afford to have their child’s food confiscated, even if it falls into the category of “unhealthy.”

Given widespread objection to the policy, it’s unclear how the district will proceed. The district appears to have removed the original Facebook post, but it’s not clear whether that means the policy was rolled back, or if it will still go into effect. The district reportedly responded to widespread media attention by saying that parents could contact their principal, but that Internet commentators should, in effect, leave the district alone.

This story is another example of an instance where public schools have become a battleground for competing philosophies about personal freedom, parental choice, and progressive policies. What do you feel about the move by the school district? Do you think they should search student lunches and confiscate unhealthy food? Share your comments.

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Award-winning entrepreneur, and the co-founder and CEO of Gado Images. Thomas writes, speaks and consults about artificial intelligence, privacy, food, photography, tech, and the San Francisco Bay Area. As a professional photographer, Thomas' photographic work regularly appears in publications worldwide. Pitches/news tips: tom@gadoimages.com

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