Cafeteria Meltdowns

And not of the "open-faced tuna sandwich" variety.

There's a new way for kids to be shamed in school this fall!
“Ziplocs are the biggest misstep,” said Julie Corbett, a mother in Oakland, Calif., whose two girls attend a school with an eco-friendly lunch policy. In school years past, she said, many a morning came unhinged when the girls were sent to school with disposable sandwich bags. 
“That’s when the kids have meltdowns, because they don’t want to be shamed at school,” Ms. Corbett said. “It’s a big deal.”
We later learn about some of the behind-the-scenes efforts that put these forces of shame into motion:
Many of the schools are pushing waste-free lunches, where everything must be either compostable or reusable, in an effort to reduce garbage and the cost of hauling it away. Others are requiring that students bring reusable gear because even though the upfront cost is higher, it tends to be cheaper over the course of the year. 
“We try to be sensitive to keeping costs down for families,” said Emily Hyde, assistant headmaster of Archway Classical Academy at Veritas, a new charter school in Phoenix that requires a reusable water bottle and lunch box for each student. “It seemed like the economical choice.”
I casually note the squishy language: "tends to be cheaper" and "it seemed like the economical choice." I might even point out that a third party to the transaction is doing the cost/benefit analysis here.  I could even go so far as to suspect (but wouldn't want to assume) that it's been awhile since Emily Hyde has packed one or more school lunches for a child.

There are different kinds of "cheap," and the price you pay at the cash register is only part of the equation.  When you add in the time and energy (and sweet, precious water) it takes to keep a Green Lunch Set clean on a daily basis, and even the stress that comes from the thrice-weekly hunt for little Janie's sandwich container that got lost somewhere between her cubby at school and the kitchen at home, I'd guess that it "tends to be costlier" overall to go Green.  Add in the illness that will certainly befall some innocent child because his mom took a shortcut several days in a row and merely rinsed the sandwich container with lukewarm water, failing to kill the burgeoning colony of salmonella that grew there, and Ziplock wins this debate hands-down.

I hate waste.  But I also hate inefficiency.  I am all for reducing the amount of stuff we dump in our landfills, and I think it's important that we teach our kids thrift and environmental responsibility.  However, for about one-third the cost of a two re-usable sandwich containers, you can get a school-year's supply of Ziplocks that will reduce germs, conserve water, and - most importantly, to me anyway - save time, effort, and stress.

I'm really dreading the day that Huck starts lecturing us about the way his bag lunch is prepared and packed, but Ann Althouse already has that angle covered:
Kiddies, if you are old enough to understand environmentalism and to pressure your mother with it, you are old enough to pack your own lunch. And if you're so hot on being saintly, start helping your mother, not making her life any harder.
NYTimes story via Althouse.