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Lunch assessment at Hoke County school causes confusion

Posted February 15, 2012

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— Controversy over what a Hoke County preschooler ate for lunch last month has captured national media attention, but the school system said Wednesday that it never took the girl's homemade lunch away or forced her to eat cafeteria food.

The 4-year-old girl was sent off to school with a turkey-and-cheese sandwich, a banana, apple juice and potato chips, her family said, but what she wound up eating was chicken nuggets from the school cafeteria.

The child's grandmother, who did not want to be identified, said the school pressured her to take the school lunch after deeming her packed lunch unhealthy.

"Her lunch was perfectly healthy," the grandmother said, adding that the girl was made to feel that her lunch wasn't good enough.

Confusion over a state assessment of a government-funded pre-kindergarten program caused the child to believe she had to go through the cafeteria line and get the chicken nuggets lunch provided by the school, said Bob Barnes, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction in Hoke County.

West Hoke Elementary School Hoke girl's family says school deemed homemade lunch unhealthy

The assessment requires the school to review children's lunches for nutrition, Barnes said. If a homemade lunch is determined to be missing one of the food groups required by United States Department of Agriculture regulations, the school is supposed to offer it to the student for free.

"What is supposed to happen is the teacher is supposed to go over and get the missing item, which I'm assuming was milk in this case, and offer it to the child," Barnes said. "The child can take it or not take it."

But the girl wound up getting put in the lunch line to get a full lunch, Barnes said.

"I don't know whether the child was confused. I don't know whether the teacher gave poor direction. I don't know, but again, that child thought she had to go through the line," he said. "If there's a mistake, that's our mistake."

Still, the grandmother said the school overstepped its authority.

"I want you stay out of my lunchboxes, government," she said. "You cannot stick your nose in that."

The family was not charged for the cafeteria meal, Barnes said.

The state Division of Child Development and Early Education said Tuesday it was investigating the incident.


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  • JohnFLob Feb 17, 2012

    Oh sure it was an isolated incident and the 4 year old was too confused to make meaning full comments. Poor little innocent school staff being ridiculed.

    NO! NO! NO! The school and its staff are apparently out of control.

    Education Exclusive: 2nd N.C. Mother Says Daughter’s School Lunch
    Replaced for Not Being Healthy Enough

  • DavyCrockett Feb 17, 2012

    Wrongo Billo. Lots of people want the government stepping in in such matters. They beleive that they have to save those they judge less intelligent than their enlightened selves from themselves. Today we call these people liberal democrats. You can typically find them around government employment, school district offices and of course, their indoctrination centers - the college campuses.

  • bill0 Feb 17, 2012

    "Until the government gives birth to a child. Sit back, shut up and leave parenting to the ones who are raising the child."

    I don't think anyone wants the government to have to step in. However, that means parents, all parents, need to step up. You would be shocked at the garbage that parents send to school for their young children to eat.

    BTW - my mother works at a private, religious school and they most definitely check the lunches and snacks of young kids. These are all upper-middle class kids, but lots of the parents don't have enough sense to know that pop tarts don't count as fruit even if they have "fruit filling."

  • TITAN4X4 Feb 16, 2012

    "Pre-kindergarten?" Why doesn't the state just take babies at birth?

    Probably not to far in the future. It will soon be like "The Matrix" at the rate the state and federal govment is going.

  • boogerntcsmom Feb 16, 2012

    oh how I am glad that my children are no longer in school. How dare a government agency take away the rights of a parent to provide a bag lunch to the parent's child. No government agency has that right. Spend time & money in the classrooms. Quit trying to take the rights of parents away unless the child is in danger of being abused or neglected. Until the government gives birth to a child. Sit back, shut up and leave parenting to the ones who are raising the child.

  • lilly77 Feb 16, 2012

    This story is not about "Confusion", WRAL it's about power and control.

  • halebobbdotcom Feb 16, 2012

    "Pre-kindergarten?" Why doesn't the state just take babies at birth?

  • North Carolina Home Feb 16, 2012

    piene2, convicted felon former Gov. Mike Easley is going to be really upset that you are giving President Bush credit for the More at Four STATE funded initiative that was the centerpiece of the Easley administration.

  • piene2 Feb 16, 2012

    "BIG gov't and Obama's regime!!!

    I hate to be the one to break this to you but "More at Four" is a Bush fiasco along with his failed wars and financial boondoggles.

  • piene2 Feb 16, 2012

    ".....Because study shows it doesn't. Yes there are exception to every study. I'm betting years from now, they have study showing that starting kids off too early, actually hurt them in social development due to being "snatched from their family" as such an early age and force into an anti-social enviroment of authority without love. This will be found to lead to certain dis-orders that created the need to kill their parents, highschool teacher or police officers.

    Yes, we don't need no steanking edusaton. Mackdonals hiring.