Tuesday, August 31, 2010

School Lunch

I just found a new blog entitled Fed Up With School Lunch, which is well worth checking out.

The author is a teacher who is eating the standard school lunch that her students eat every day in 2010.  She's going back to school (and back to crappy food) any day now.  There will be pictures.

You should see some of this stuff.  Really, it's appalling.  And the amount of trash that each lunch generates is absurd.  Everything is in individual cardboard trays with plastic overwrap.  Whatever happened to hairnetted lunch ladies slinging ladels full of green beans onto plastic trays with little dividers?

When my sister was teaching first grade, I took the girls up so they could be her show & tell, and we had lunch with her in the cafeteria.  I'll never forget that they were serving nachos (which consisted of a plastic bag of chips, with 1/2 cup of nacho "cheese" (it probably bore no genetic resemblance to actual cheese), and 1/2 cup of some kind of seasoned beef (or "beef," perhaps) as an entree.  YEURGH!

When the pretty babies are in full-day school, I intend to let them choose one day per week to buy a "hot lunch" (as we called it, back in the day) and to have them pack the other 4 days a week.  One day a week probably won't kill them, and then they'll see pizza, chicken nuggets, burgers and fries, and nachos (!!!) for what they are - treats that should be eaten only rarely, not healthy, nutritious, balanced meals to fuel growing bodies!

I was talking with my mom about this issue today, and she mentioned that Michelle Obama, is working on the school lunch issue, too.  I hope she succeeds.  I didn't breastfeed these kids for 28 months and 22 months, respectively, only to have them fed nothing but crap on weekdays from the time they're 6 until they are 18. 

I just spoke with Megan, and she mentioned that her students (1st Grade) went to lunch at 10:50, and that the school required them to bring a snack to eat at 9:30 am.  Megan had to resort to rewarding kids who brought healthy snacks, because too many of them brought chips, Little Debbies, donuts, etc.  Can you imagine dealing with 25 or 30 first graders who have just pounded back 50 grams of sugar?  I sure can't.  I know I have trouble staying awake and concentrating when I eat crap...  I can't imagine what it's like for growing children!

When I was in school I had terrible problems with low blood sugar - problems that I no longer have as an adult.  I suffered from frequent migraine headaches.  (I still get hormonal migraines, but not the random ones I got back then, and not with the frequency I used to get them).  Sometimes I even got faint or loopy, depending on what I had eaten.  There's one particularly memorable occasion when I had eaten nothing but a hot fudge sundae all day (come on, I was a teenager!  I could fill a book with what I didn't know...) and I couldn't remember how to get home from work (at McDonald's, where I got the sundae).  Even scarier - I was behind the wheel of a car at the time, in the town where I'd lived my entire life, and I was only half a mile from home.  I wonder how much school food played a role in my low blood sugar and associated migraines and loopiness, and whether the lack of school food in my adult life is what has cured me.

Have you got school aged kids?  Have you given school lunches any thought?  How does the school lunch menu affect your dinner menu, or does it?  How would you rate your school district's lunch program?

(I know it's a pain to have to log in to comment, and I'm sorry...  Maybe if you're all very good and you leave excellent comments for a couple weeks, I'll turn anonymous commenting back on.)


Juliana said...

School lunches are a huge problem. When I was in high school I ate a soft pretzel with cheese or doritos with cheese almost every single day for lunch. The hot lunch looked so gross that I couldn't bring myself to eat it...not that it was healthy anyway.

The only good thing my school did, was pop was not available during school hours.

Jen said...

That's what we do. We pack luch M-R, and he's "allowed" to eat a hot lunch on Fridays. Works great, and gives me a little reprieve at the end of the week too.
But yeah, aren't they gross? When I do my presentations, I often eat at the school (ours still have green bean slinging lunch ladies and foam divided trays) and the food is gross. Always.

angel0199 said...

I use to let my kids buy lunch 1 or 2 times a week. I knew the menu lacked green veggies most days, but I didn't realize how bad things were until I went to eat lunch with my daughter.

First, she picked a baked potato that same with the same sort of "cheese" sauce and meat that you described with the nachos.Then she wanted tater tots and juice as her sides. A completely brown, high carb, little protein lunch. Plus everything was in its own disposable container. I am teaching my kids to make healthy choices, but it is hard to if the school tells them tator tots and juice are 2 of their fruit/veggie servings for the day.

Now we pack everyday. Sometimes the entree isn't the healthiest, but I know they get fruit and veggies everyday.

Their new school has pizza brought in once a week and chick-fil-a nuggets another day. I may let them choose these items occasionally, but I will still pack some fruit and veggies to go with them.

Kathryn said...

School lunches SUCK!!! I am thankful that at Ian's Montessori school that I am the one providing his lunch. As one step further, the school requires a healthy lunch - no junk food allowed and the younger grades talk about the food groups during lunch to reinforce healthy choices. Yea!!!

dieMutti said...

My oldest is in Kindergarten, so I don't know much, but I do think it's better quality than what I had as a child. I still have nightmares about the greasy pizza we were served where the cheese just slid off in one solid-ish chunk. Yuck.

Our district actually offers three/four choices each day and color codes the options (green is healthiest, yellow is eat in moderation, red is eat seldom) and the food could be worse.

That being said, my daughter and I pack her a lunch every day. She doesn't really have a desire to buy the lunches they have and I'm good with that. I've observed that most of the kids that get the school lunch receive reduced or free lunch (just from talking to people, and I'm not trying to judge here). If you're only paying 40 cents a lunch, I think our schools here are doing decently.

Mass produced food made by lower wage employees can never be hugely heathful, in my opinion (sodium content alone!). It would be awesome to have the resources, $$, and desire to hire a chef for the schools. And can you imagine the awesomeness of their palates? That would be ideal!

Until then, we'll be packing. A lunch, that is. :)

Cara Fox said...

We are lucky to be in both an elementary and a preschool that emphasizes bringing healthy snacks and lunches from home. However, the elementary "hot lunches" still suck! We're heading into the third week of school and my oldest hasn't asked to buy a hot lunch yet. I'm not pushing it until he asks and then we'll compromise (probably once a week?). In the meantime, I'm happily packing sandwiches with fruit/veggie/rice cake sides and he's happily consuming them.

Mrs. Q said...

Thanks for the mention! I just found it. Hope all is well!