I'm going to do a little response to this article, which has been making the rounds.
At first glance, this seems like a nightmare. Now the government is telling us we can't feed our own children? Yikes!
But, that's what the political spin is. The headlines are misleading; it's like they're trying to scare us all with some sort of crazy conspiracy. The writer of that article says that it's about monetary control, but it's not. The article even mentions Obamacare, which is ridiculous. Even the first quote on the page tries to make you believe that classic American values are all but obliterated.
The reason for a food-from-home ban is much simpler.
But let's start by noting that this is for Federally Operated HeadStart Preschools, not any other level of schooling. Preschools are optional, not forced on anyone. There are plenty of alternative pre-schooling centers. Brown bag lunches are not and will never be banned from public middle or high schools. And also, almost all privately-owned preschools have this same exact policy, and for a very good reason. (The picture are my home-made, Game of Thrones cookies :-))
And the reason why preschools are singled out is simple: Allergies.
Preschools have a range of ages from newly-born through five. Children, as the article points out, LOVE to swap lunches around. As a former toddler teacher, I know that some kids don't even understand that they cannot eat the lunches of children sitting next to them.
Can we expect a five year old to have the mental comprehension mature enough to understand what an allergy is? If Timmy gets a Snickers Bar from Julie, he dies.
Allergies kill kids, and you know what? Children five and younger LOVE sharing. If they get a Snickers Bar, they want to give some to the other kids. How are they supposed to know not to share (when they are told to share all day long)? Even worse, what if little Jackie gets a chicken salad wrap? Jackie doesn't know that there are peanuts in it. She just knows it's chicken.
And peanuts aren't the only problem. There are fish allergies. Wheat allergies. Milk allergies. Meat allergies. Etc. Etc.
Preschool teachers are some of the most overworked people in the world. They don't have time to inspect everyone's lunch every day, especially since Joe started biting others at random, Mark keeps hitting Sally, and Steve just pooped on the carpet. These are all things that really happened to me, commonly even. If you think that a preschool teacher absolutely always has the ability to monitor every single child the entire time, you're mad. From ages one-and-up, SEVEN children are allowed in a classroom with a single teacher. SEVEN!! Imagine trying to control SEVEN toddlers all at the same time. Imagine the eating table. It's madness as is. Now, imagine that John's mom loves to give him a pack lunch filled with peanuts and if Timmy gets one, even one that gets picked up off the floor, he dies.
It doesn't take but a second for a kid to pop a peanut in their mouth and swallow it.
And parents cannot be expected to cooperate, let's just be honest. You really think you can trust every parent to follow the list of banned-allergy-inducing-child-killing list? Wrong. Even at the Center where I worked, parents STILL tried to bring food in when it was banned. And they STILL brought in peanuts.
The only way for a preschool to function safely is to control what is fed to the kids. This goes for any preschool--from government to privately owned. It's much easier to control meals if they are planned by the school, expected by the teachers, and served without surprises.
I honestly cannot believe that that article was posted without mentioning allergies once. It's obvious that she just had no idea why preschools ban home-food, so I had to respond.
tl;dr: young kids will swap food without knowing that allergies can kill their friends