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The Globe and Mail

School suspends six-year-old for bringing crackers with lunch

Woe to the British six-year-old whose parents sent him to school with cheese crackers. His punishment: four days suspension.

According to a story in The Guardian, the primary school student was sent home after teachers discovered a bag of Mini Cheddars in his lunch, and his parents were found in violation of the school's health and balanced meal policy.

This lack of parental support, the newspaper reported, quoting a letter sent to his family, "had led to Riley being put in a situation where he is continuously breaking school rules regarding health eating."

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And so the rabid controversy over kids' lunches continues.

Last November, a Winnipeg daycare threatened a mom with a fine because she had failed to include a "grain" in her child's balanced lunch, which included, incidentally, roast beef, potatoes, carrots and an orange for dessert.

And last week, officials in Ohio had to apologize after a cafeteria worker seized the meals of a group of elementary school students whose lunch accounts were in arrears. Instead the kids were given an orange and a small carton of milk, while their actual lunch was tossed in the garbage. The case made national news in the United States, and lunch lady has been placed on leave.

Between allergy restrictions and health eating campaigns, packing the old brown bag has never been so complicated.

For the record, officials at Riley's school in Britain say that only one family – that is his – has complained about the policy, saying the response from the others has been "wonderful."

But Riley's parents aren't backing down. "We just do not see how they have a right to tell us what we can feed our son," says his mom, Nicola Mardle. "If anything, Riley is underweight and could do with putting on a few pounds."

It's not clear what else was in his lunch, but those "Baked Mini Cheddars" sound an awful lot like Goldfish crackers, minus the marine theme. If adding those to the lunch bag were grounds for suspension, Canadian schools would have solved the class-size problem.

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