Bringing packed lunch to school NOT a right – SC

The Supreme Court of Italy ruled in favor of giving schools the power to ban packed lunches on campus.

NOTE: The "Supreme Court of Cassation" is the highest court of appeal or court of last resort in Italy. It has its seat in the Palace of Justice, Rome.

It has been a tradition for Italian students and teachers to all sit together and eat the same lunch from the school cafeteria. However, some parents of students began preparing home-cooked meals for their children because cafeteria food is usually expensive and unhealthy. Following this action, a group of parents from Turin, Italy, pushed a legal battle to make school lunches optional instead of compulsory.

The country’s Supreme Court sided with schools in prohibiting students from bringing home-cooked meals. The court emphasized that such action demonstrates disregard for the principles of equality that school lunches promote. According to the court, bringing packed lunches can result in discrimination as some students may avoid sitting with their richer classmates, who usually eat more expensive meals.

NOTE: It is not clear from the article whether the schools in question are private or public. It is submitted that the Philippine Supreme Court's decision would change depending on the public or private nature of schools.

NOTE: The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution. It shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception. The natural and primary right and duty of parents in the rearing of the youth for civic efficiency and the development of moral character shall receive the support of the Government. (Section 12 of Article II of the 1987 Constitution)

However, more and more Italians are beginning to have a different opinion regarding the tradition of eating the same school lunch. A survey revealed that 26% of Italians deem lunches served at schools to have poor quality. This was confirmed during previous school canteen checks in which authorities found insects and mouse droppings in food.
Because of the downsides that come with eating school lunches, the ruling infuriated numerous parents. In an interview with a local TV station, one mother complained about the school lunch fees being higher than her monthly wages. Other parents took to social media to gather more signatures for their petition. They insisted that bringing home-cooked meals to school is a social right and does not affect children’s level of engagement in school.

SOURCE: RareJob (2019). Italian Supreme Court Gives Schools Authority to Ban Packed Lunches. September 18, 2019. RareJob's Daily News Articles.

The ruling sparked outrage amongst parents, with one mother describing it as "an act of violence". Lorenza, who has two children at a Turin school, told a local TV station she spent more than €2,000 (£1,823) on school meals, more than her monthly salary. "My older daughter was not happy because the quality of the food didn't justify the cost, and also because of the hygiene issues with the canteen. "She would often complain that the cutlery was dirty, that the glasses were not particularly clean, or that there would be hairs on the plates," she said. A local Turin Facebook group called on parents to petition schools, arguing that sending in home-cooked food was a "social right" which did not hamper their children's ability to participate in school life. Others said they could not be sure canteens would cater to specific dietary requirements of some pupils. Other European countries, such as Finland, provide free school lunches to all pupils. In France, school lunches are not free, but are heavily subsidised. All infant pupils in England's schools are entitled to a free hot meal at lunchtime, but take-up is not compulsory.

SOURCE: BBC (2019). Packed lunches not a right in Italian schools, court rules. 1 August 2019.