Thursday, October 15, 2009

School Lunch

I had lunch with my child Raine's kindergarten class today. At 11:15 am. I usually pack his lunch 4 days a week, and he eats what the cafeteria is serving on the 5th day.

It was meatloaf today ! In light of all of the news about e-coli problems with ground beef, I have to admit I was a little bit leary. will let you know if I get sick. The meatloaf was served with chopped greens, collard I think, and I confirmed that they were of the canned variety, missing the porky goodness that a ham hock adds. they were okay, but I noticed that none of the kids tasted any- they would be well served to take notice of what the kids eat and don't and plan menus better. I also had a small side salad and some chocolate milk- most of the kids drank either orange or apple juice. Not sure if its a great idea to give them a juice option- it's one of the major contributors to childhood obesity and it's in the healthy category. There were apples and bananas and containers of sugary freestone peaches as well.

I was disappointed that the meals are served on throw-away styrofoam trays with plastic utensils- need to do some digging to understand the economics behind that decision.

Holton has a progressive streak- we have funding to build an outdoor classroom and garden. Hopefully we will see some the Holton harvest infiltrate the cafeteria before too long. And another exciting update is that there is some national movement on improving school lunch quality and nutrition- click here to read about the new legislation, Healthy Food for Healthy Schools Act of 2009


Karen H. said...

Brave man taking on the cafeteria...I'm not there yet!

As a Holton parent, I do share your concern about the food options & the environmental nightmare in the cafeteria. I haven't researched it yet, but my gut inclination is to imagine that money is behind most of the choices that are made.

I heard a facinating piece on WRIR this past weekend on school menus and it was heartbreaking. The cafeteria lady/nutritionist who was speaking indicated that in most ways in most school districts, we have taken giant steps backwards in the past 20 years.

I have no idea what the answers may be, but I am not thrilled when I see what is offered to the kids at lunch time. If this is the best meal many have each day, it seems all the more important that we find a way to do better.

paul said...

I think the economics of disposability come down to this: people are required to collect and wash reusable dishes. Preparation of anything other than the most basic foods also requires people and equipment that the school districts simply aren't willing to fund.

The truth is that options exist, but they may not be institutionally feasible at this point. And at this point, our kids go to schools that are driven by a central administrative body that could care less about doing anything more than the most basic coverage of nutrition — as defined by the USDA. Conveniently, the USDA laws favor the kinds of meal preparation you saw, and don't favor actually looking at what the kids eat.

It's sad, really. I spent more than a few lunches in the past couple years looking at what the kids are eating. The ones who buy lunch get the "good" stuff. The ones who can't afford to buy lunch get pathetic options offered to them. The kids who eat best are the ones who bring their lunch.

Thirty years ago, I remember craving the lunches other kids bought over the ones my mother packed. I think it's very telling that Anna would rather bring a packed lunch.