The problem with school lunches in the elementary schools of the US is that citizens of this nation have no respect for the food we eat. You may tell your kids ‘eat your vegetables’, but if you don’t do it, it’s like telling them not to smoke as you smoke two packs a day yourself.
We eat junk. When we cook we cook junk. How outraged could we possibly be if our children eat junk at school in the school cafeteria?
In France, lunch menus are prepared two months in advance and sent away to a nutritionist who gives the menu final approval. The nutritionist can make adjustments to the meal, such as suggesting a dessert be swapped for fruit if “she thinks there’s too much sugar that week,” writes Plantier. Not only that, but lunches are prepared on site. There are no “ready made frozen” meals to speak of, no box-cutters excavating fish sticks or fries; instead, school cooks prepare everything by hand.
In the New York Times Magazine there was a long article that detailed the trench warfare going on over school lunch standards. Currently school lunches contribute to the child obesity epidemic. The lunches are processed and fast food junk. The status quo makes big food companies and pizza companies tons of money, plus gets their products into every child’s hands. It is a marketer’s fantasy come true. They have no intention of letting your children eat fresh foods, fruits or vegetables.
There is a very good chance that as you read these words it is the first you heard that anyone is concerned about the state of school lunch programs. You are likely also to have no idea what your kids are offered for lunch every day. Perhaps you have never set foot in the cafeteria where they get fed half of their calories for the day.
Maybe you don’t know that over half of the elementary school children in the US are over weight. Maybe you don’t know that. Maybe if you did know it you would wonder what could be done about it.
Read the article to find out what the fight is about. Here is a sample of what the law is up against.
To ensure that the students’ calories were spread among different food groups, the administration had imposed a weekly cap on grain and protein, allowing no more than 12 ounces of each per week at lunch. Some school-nutrition directors, struggling to implement the caps, shrank the size of popular items like pizza slices or hamburgers. But many students that year were refusing — as they have since roughly the beginning of time — to take the now larger fruit-and-vegetable servings in compensation, meaning they wound up with significantly less food than before. Students were left hungry, and the lunch ladies were put in a tough spot.
As I see it the problem is choice. When my kids come into the house for supper I don’t have healthy and junk food available and then let them pick. When I have a lunch provided for me at work, I don’t get to choose. When did giving the kids the option to eat healthy or not become an option? It’s really easy. You pay for a week’s worth of lunches on Monday. Every day of the week, you go to the lunch room and get what is for lunch that day. No Choices.
Is it really debatable whether or not a middle schooler should eat pizza for lunch five days a week? Is it really debatable whether or not they pick milk or a Coke? Fruit or a slice of cake is not a choice I let my children make at home, why on Earth could anyone make a straight faced argument that it is a choice they should have outside of my supervision?
If you kids are overweight you can do something about it. You can eat right at home. You can feed them a real breakfast of food that is not out of a box or bag. If you do, lunch won’t be just another dietary disaster for the day. If you sufficiently appreciate the food you eat your kids will learn to as well.