Monday, January 24, 2011

School lunches

I'm reading on the CNN website (click here) about a lady who ate school lunches at an urban midwest school for a year and blogged about it.  Since she works at the school, she has kept her identity a secret, but will reveal it later this year when she publishes a book about her project.  
"She found the school food revolting, but her students hardly complained about the meals. For many of them, it's their favorite meal of the day -- especially hot dogs, chicken nuggets and pizza. Ninety five percent of the kids at her school receive free or reduced-price meals, Mrs. Q estimated."
I personally don't find it surprising that most kids liked the meals, because the people with whom I've rubbed shoulders serve the same kind of over-processed junk to their kids at home; Children like to eat the things they're used to.  
Do you think I'm being critical of their parents?  I'm not, because over-processed junk is usually what's most affordable; Aldi's, anyone?  There's also the fact that in homes where both parents work, or where there is only one parent available, meal preparation time is limited.  Let's face it, it takes a lot more time to cook meals from scratch than it does to stick a frozen pizza or chicken pot pie in the oven; Hamburger Helper is quick, and so easy to make that a ten-year-old can prepare supper.  Kids love Ramen noodles, and who stops to analyze the nutrient content (what nutrients?) of these things when they're so cheap?  
Oh, I have dozens of recipes that are frugal, nutritious, and quick to fix; but I don't expect busy parents to go searching for new things to prepare when the kids are happy with the status quo.  Let's not rock the boat, shall we?  
I'll shut up before I get started on soft drinks.  I still haven't found any good reason why people would supply growing children with sweetened water when they say they can't afford to buy fresh fruit.  
I leave you with the link to the blog, "Fed Up With Lunch".  


Anita said...

I've read Mrs. Q's blog off and on for a while now. She was featured on one of the morning shows last year; in shadow though.
The comments that she's gotten on her blog have varied and provided much "food for thought" :) just as your post has.
I'll be looking for her book.
You're right; parents are very busy these days - taking kids here to there, making decisions after reading paper after paper that's sent home, or the numerous emails. Whew!
But we can do better. I think it has to be a big revelation for parents before a committment is made to improve our diets.
I'm certainly guilty of eating and providing the junk food, but I continue to do better with nutrition. Sodas are a no-no most of the time. And I continue to buy the fruits and veggies. Wish me luck with my meal planning. :)

ingasmile said...

I am a very concerned parent when it comes to what happens during a school day and that includes lunches, recesses and enough PE/art/music time. My kids both like school lunches but do not get that kind of stuff at home. We grow a big garden and now have chickens so my boys are learning every day about good nutrition.

Neither of my kids wants to take a lunch to school though. Plus I am not sure the nutrition of ham/cheese or PBJ sandwiches are any better than what they are already receiving at school.

Jamie Oliver is trying to rally the US for better school lunches. I love watching him cook with such enthusiasm.

I do think many parent's just don't care but there are many others who do and would like to see drastic changes made.


Ms Martyr said...

I also was going to mention Jamie Oliver in a different context. A few years back he had a show where he was trying to improve the school lunches in Great Britain. He showed by example how he could make nutritious lunches for the same cost as junk food. Many of the kids and their parents were unfamiliar with vegetables. He also met with quite a bit of resistance from the food preparers.
Much of the food offered in the US school lunch program is subsidized by the companies providing it. I know the schools are strapped for funds and are almost forced to accept what is offered because they can't afford anything better.

Midlife Mom said...

When I think of the stuff that I ate in school lunch it makes me sick. Seriously it was horrible, those big fat hot dogs, fish sticks, chemical meat sandwiches, gag! Doesn't sound like they are much better today in some places. They have a la carte here but the kids just pick the stuff they like not the veggies and good stuff.

Margaret said...

It is way more expensive and time-consuming to eat healthy stuff, whether school lunches or meals at home. Sad,isn't it?

Milly said...

On a personal level, since I work in an area high school, I find the lunches in my building totally awful -- and not very filling. We also serve breakfast -- cold cereal and a small container of milk. Lunches are sandwiches and chicken nuggets. We no longer have a cafeterial staff that cooks -- to save money all the food is brought in from a central point and all we have on site are servers and dish washers. 99% of our student body eats free lunch. For probably at least 35% of them (maybe a lot more), this is the only food they get all day. 30% of our student body is either homeless or living with relatives / friends. We open during snow storms (when every other school district has closed) because we know that our kids get the only food they see during the week from us. I keep a pantry in my coat closet to feed kids who are hungry -- ramen noodles is a staple because it's warm and filling. So are breakfast bars, jello, apple sauce, pudding, chef-boy-r-dee spaghetti bowls -- all containing lots of "processed" ingredients. But they require no refigeration and can be "nuked" in a couple of minutes. Sometimes the food you can get a hold of is better than no food at all.

Lindie said...

my 9 year old granddaughter has not eaten chicken nuggets since Jamie Olivers show last spring. She will eat chicken at a restaurant, after she makes sure it is prepared on site, and not frozen and bought.