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Friday, February 17, 2012

School Lunch Shenanigans

A coworker of mine sent me this article about a recent school lunch shenanigan.The article tells the sad story of a girl who was sent to school with a sack lunch that consisted of a turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips, and apple juice. The school inspected her lunch and decided that it did not meet USDA nutrition guidelines. Then they fed her chicken nuggets and gave her a bill for the "nutritious" meal.

I know that this sounds insane to most of you but in North Carolina, prekindergarten programs are required to evaluate the lunches parents are providing. I pose two questions.

First, should schools or government program decide what is best for our children instead of parents?

Second, If government programs should decide what is best for children, do we have reason to believe they are able to distinguish what is healthy?

I would argue that we risk losing a lot of freedom if we say yes to the first question. I would also argue that federal food programs have proven that they can't distinguish what is healthy. If you don't believe me, check out this article from chefann.com. It describes a recent USDA sponsored assessment on school lunches/   Here are a few excerpts from Chef Ann's article:

  • Grains: The vast majority of grain products (bread, rolls, bagels, crackers etc.) were made of refined white flour. Only 5 percent of grain offering was whole wheat
  • Fruit: Ninety-four percent of schools offered fruit or fruit juices. Only 50 percent of schools offered fresh fruit. The rest offered canned fruit or fruit juice.
  • Combination entrée: The most commonly offered combination entrée depended on age; in elementary school, 28 percent of combination entrees were peanut butter sandwiches, followed by meat sandwiches; in middle school the most commonly offered combination entree was pizza with meat, followed by cheeseburgers and sandwiches with breaded meat or poultry.
In my opinion, the worst part of this is the control that institutions have over individuals. We have written multitudes of blog posts about farmers getting shut down because they sell raw milk. I have seen articles about people not being allowed to eat their neighbors free range eggs. I am scared that I am going to lose my rights. I think that I should be able to choose what I eat. I think I can make better decisions than a government program or mandate. I think it is much better to make wrong decisions (which I will at times) and be free, than be forced to do what might be better for me (which is unlikely) and lose my freedom.

What do you think?


Dani said...

And I understand that those "chicken nuggets" are made from very processed chicken...


Alice said...

I'd be pretty unhappy if that happened to me. We pack lunches for our boys most days, they get school lunch one day a week as a special treat.

Clint Baker said...

You should research and see how the hamburger at Taco Bell is made. You would never eat there again!

Stoney Acres said...

I posted about this the other day on my blog too. What a mess. We send our kids to school with a packed lunch because the stuff they get for school lunch is absolute crap!! I hate to say it but left to their own devises my two older kids would eat a cheese burger, fries, chocolate milk and a giant cookie every day. And the school will let them!!!! and call it a balanced meal!

teekaroo said...

It's getting absolutely silly. Maybe silly is too soft of a word. I still say, educate and let people decide for themselves.

Rea said...

Wow, that would send me over the edge if that happened to any of the children I love. First we give the school the power to tell our kids what to eat. Then we take away their funding so all the can afford is crap. Then, in some states schools can not buy from local farmers because those farms may not have been inspected, so the food the schools can afford come from far away, maybe even foreign countries.

When do we step back and say...this is what insanity looks like.

LindaG said...

Big brother is in the room.

Not only that, but after the mother complained to her congressman; not only did the school apologize, but they admitted that the sack lunch did indeed meet the requirements of a nutritious lunch.

It is not up to the schools OR the government to say what parents can or can not put in their child's lunch.
That is the problem. We have given them too much power because many parents now don't bother to use theirs.

Dree said...

School lunches were crap when I was in public school (lets just average that to "30 years ago"), and they are still crap. The cheese on the pizza is STILL green LOL.

I would be irate if that happened to my kids, and both of my kids have unusual food allergies, so it is rather terrifying.

That said, when one of my kids was in (private) preschool, there was a girl who came with 2 powerbars and a bag of Funyuns on a day when dad packed her lunch. I mean really!

daisy said...

I have a real problem with anyone scrutinizing someone's lunch brought from home. Lord knows that public schools have done a poor job of nourishing our children.
Another great reason for homeschooling if you can...

Cheryl Ann said...

Hey, I'm a teacher and believe me, school lunches are absolutely awful! We can always tell when they feed the kiddos junk food. On those afternoon, they can't sit still, they can't listen, they can't focus on lessons, and so on. And, they feed them pancakes and SYRUP for breakfast! I've eaten a school lunch a few times and it was AWFUL...canned peas and carrots, "fake" potatoes (add water or milk and stir...) BELIEVE ME, SCHOOL LUNCHES ARE NOT nutritious! And, who wants to eat lunch that is supplied by the lowest bidder? I bring my lunch every day now. GOOD for the parents who send their child to school with a healthy lunch! And, McDonalds??? Doesn't that food have the same half life as plutonium?

the mother ship said...

To answer your questions:

1) Absolutely not, and

2) Absolutely not.

I would elaborate, but I think this news story really says it all. :/

Charlotte said...

A BIG NO you your first question. No institution or government agency should be second guessing what a parent packs his/her child for lunch. Perhaps if the child just had chips, maybe the teacher could suggest or offer the child something in addition. But that story is crazy.
Schools have quit making food and just heats up processed junk most of the time. They count ketchup as a vegetable.