School Lunch Wish List

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what changes would make school lunch better for students. Here’s what I’ve got so far (I might be shooting for the moon here):

1) Commit to offering pizza only once per month and removing hot dogs from the menu.

2) Offer a piece of fruit at every meal in place of a fruit cup, fruit juice or icee. The fruit part of the meal should be actual fruit and it should be sliced so that kids can grab it and eat it.

3) Allow parents, educators, and students access to nutritional information for each meal. It can be online.

4) Offer greens (spinach, salad, etc) in a salad bar to students every day and educate them on how to make a salad.

5) Remove pre-packaged items (bagel dogs, peanut butter sandwiches, cheese sandwiches, etc) from the menu and replace with casseroles, soups, wraps, or fresh-made PB&Js (all of which are cost-efficient and can be made in very large batches).

6) Commit to a 50% to 75% reduction of plastic/paper containers and remove all styrofoam from the cafeteria. Install dishwashers in all schools (like it used to be).

7) Offer more options geared towards students with allergies and intolerances (lactose, wheat, nut, etc). Might as well educate students on what “lactose intolerant” means and what “allergy” means so they can be on the look-out.

8) Every school has a fully operational kitchen with dishwasher and cooking staff. If it means hiring more workers, let’s think of it as a “stimulus plan.” It’s worth it not to truck in all of this stuff.

9) Every school incorporates new nutrition-based cooking curriculum to students of all ages and requires the students to enter the kitchen and learn basic snack and meal prep. Even pre-schoolers can spread peanut butter or soy-nut butter on celery and put little raisins on top.

10) Teach students where their food comes from by taking a trip to a farm or planting a school garden so that they can be invested in food and have an experience in DIRT! “Dirty” is not a bad word.

11) Actively incorporate recycling into the school program and instruct students on how to recycle and what can be recycled and why it’s important.

What do you want for students’ lunches? I’m going to write a School Lunch Bill of Rights based on my thoughts and your feedback/ideas.

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93 Responses to School Lunch Wish List

  1. Ben February 20, 2010 at 5:20 pm #

    I haven't read through all the comments, but here are my thoughts…

    Firstly I agree that in principles Schools should do what they can to get good food into kids. Of course they should.

    But I think how you are going about suggesting such changes is, frankly poor.

    You mention, for example, all schools should provide nutritional information regarding the meals of which they will be eating. You may take it for granted that the information on the side of a bag of Cheetos (et al) displays the fat, calorie, sugar and salt intake, but all this information must be determined through chemical analysis.

    The very nature of a school cafeteria would suggest many many menu options. Even the same menu on a different day will differ dramatically based on who is cooking it and what ingredients the Kitchen has in stock. (Hey, Maureen, we only have 12 carrots left, not 15!!… etc)

    Removing the packaged items will only mean that students bring them in from the outside. I don't understand your point of replacing a packaged PB+J sandwhiches with hand-made ones? How would that have any benefit to the school?

    If you do replace everything on the menu, with foods such as this, many kids will not eat. Plain and simple.

    I appreciate why you would want to introduce "Free from" foods into schools, but the practicalities in the kitchen environment are not neccesarily viable. How can the school, categorically prevent contamination of such foods? It costs the foods industry millions and millions of £/$ to do this. What if a child with an allergy consumed foods unintentionally contaminated with the allergen?

    I think schools have a lot of work to do to ensure the kids eat a healthy meal, but some of the suggestions you are proposing are a little farfetched.

  2. Anonymous February 21, 2010 at 8:22 pm #

    To "Ben"

    She said it was a wish list, so she's allowed to be idealistic.

    Obviously, this is an idealistic person – a teacher who wants to help her kids learn but who sees that she is fighting a tough battle when the very mechanism of a kid's little body is not being fed the fuel it needs to grasp intellectual concepts.

    This teacher seems to want to positively help her kids in the most basic way – at the cellular level – because without starting at that fundamental base level, anything at any higher level becomes exponentially more challenging.

    Keep it up, Mrs. Q. All this dialogue is great.

  3. Catmoves February 21, 2010 at 9:37 pm #

    Although I sympathise with Mrs. Q's discomforture, I really need to point out that the free food and/or low cost food is designed to tempt children, not elitist adults, to eat the meals.
    I remember eating many hot dogs while going to school (the 1960's) and enjoying them. Now she wants to "removing hot dogs from the menu." I hope this not because (the schools buy the dogs that are made with pork) of a religion's taboo on that food?
    Excuse me, but aren't fruit cups composed of real friut? If so, why "Offer a piece of fruit at every meal in place of a fruit cup"?
    It may come as a shock, but many homes cannot afford computers and ISP connections: "Allow parents, educators, and students access to nutritional information for each meal. It can be online."
    When we were kids in school, "Offer greens (spinach, salad, etc) in a salad bar to students every day and educate them on how to make a salad." Would have given us the fits as we bypassed them for "good food." And spinach for a kid? Roaring.
    "Remove pre-packaged items (bagel dogs, peanut butter sandwiches, cheese sandwiches, etc)…." I was under the impression that these items were made in a kitchen operated by the school system? (I've seen a couple.) Maybe the people making these things need to be trained into doing it right. I've had some great sandwiches like these from my loving home.
    "Commit to a 50% to 75% reduction of plastic/paper containers and remove all styrofoam from the cafeteria. Install dishwashers in all schools (like it used to be)." Um, ok. But remember many items like free milk come in cartons for a reason. And yes, I remember the kitchen with tray and silverware and some dishes. I used to pick up some spare change helping out.
    "Might as well educate students on what "lactose intolerant" means and what "allergy" means…." Excuse me, but don't schools do that now? We learned it in about seventh grade.
    "Even pre-schoolers can spread peanut butter or soy-nut butter on celery and put little raisins on top." If it's my kid giving it to me, ok. If it's someone elses kid…."
    "Teach students where their food comes from by taking a trip to a farm or planting a school garden so that they can be invested in food and have an experience in DIRT!" Great idea. Where and when I was raised most people had some kind of garden. But I knew kids from ghetto schools who had no idea that corn grew on stalks. The problem, of course, is transportation. With cities and businesses going broke every day, there might not be enough money left for these trips.
    Recycling is very important. Drum how and why to do it into every single kids' head. Have them take it home and show Mom. And Dad.
    Good luck and I hope you can make a dent in your charge at the stuffed shirts.

  4. Viki February 21, 2010 at 9:51 pm #

    If you are going to have a school garden, why not have a school compost pile too. That way the veg. food that gets thrown out can be incorporated into the compost.
    BTW
    I have 2 girls, 22 yrs old and 16 yrs old. One is allergic to peanuts. Neither have ever bought a school lunch. I teach preschool and every day during lunch I talk about healthy food with my kids.

  5. Anonymous February 21, 2010 at 10:59 pm #

    It would be great for vegetarian options to be available as well. My son is a vegetarian, and definitely eats better then his friends because I pack his lunch every day.

  6. Jane February 22, 2010 at 2:05 am #

    See our website: http://www.patriciaslunchbox.com

    We are trying to do all of the above. We can't get into the public schools: we've tried. And you would be surprised at the number of parents at the private schools where we DO serve our lunches, who do NOT GET IT .

  7. Anonymous February 22, 2010 at 3:11 am #

    For Lussuria,
    I returned to college a few years ago as a non-traditional student and have been actively working on my body as well as mind. Absolutely pack a lunch. Mine changes but I have made it a habit to make a little extra dinner every night and make myself a homemade tv dinner for the next day. I'm sure you can find a microwave somewhere on campus. I use the one in the student store. Sometimes just a salad with bread, hummus and pita, always a fruit, sometimes two, one for a between class snack. Also, make sure to pack some kind of "fun" snack, small piece of chocolate, homemade cookie. It may sound bad but it is much easier to avoid outside temptation knowing that I have my own. Good luck.

  8. Anonymous February 22, 2010 at 4:18 am #

    Seriously, could people just use common sense? If you don't agree with what the school is serving, then pack your kids lunch and get over it. Schools are for education…let parents do some of the work and teach their children nutrition.

  9. Anonymous February 22, 2010 at 5:05 am #

    Also a good idea for fresh fruits and veggies would be a school garden, teach kids to plant and tend gardens, then the fruit and veggies can be used at that school, activities to pick them, of course they can't do all of it but some why not

  10. Anonymous February 22, 2010 at 6:11 am #

    I went to school in South Carolina during the 1950s and school lunches were excellent! Every meal was well balanced, well prepared, and tasty. Everything was cooked on in the lunch room kitchen by a small staff. USDA surplus items were used and helped keep the cost down. In the high school students washed the dishes in return for free lunches. Lunch cost to the students was $0.25 per meal. I understand that the actual cost was double that and the school system picked up the balance.

    The lunch room chief reported to the school principal and each school took great pride in it school lunches. Where did we lose our direction? How can we get back to those basics?

    Bob

  11. Anonymous February 22, 2010 at 2:53 pm #

    AS I HAVE STATED BEFORE ——THE NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION FOR EACH MEAL IS PROVIDED TO YOUR BUILDING WITH THE MONTHLY MENU. ANYONE INCLUDING YOU CAN ASK FOR IT. SOME DISTRICTS DO PROVIDE THIS ON LINE.

  12. Anonymous February 22, 2010 at 3:42 pm #

    Nutrition and food is so important. We eat three times a day, but most kids get no education on what they should be eating or how to prepare it. This country can't vilify the overweight and obese when people are given no tools for healthy eating.

    I'm sure someone will say it is the parents' job to educate children on nutrition, but this is a nationwide issue and we need a central figure to spearhead this. Maybe if it starts in schools, in one more generation we will have parents who are educated on nutrition and can teach their children.

  13. Karen February 22, 2010 at 11:30 pm #

    What I want for school lunches: I think I am realistic, as I am struggling with making ends meet myself. I would wish for lunches made by lunch workers. Real food – cooked on location. We all know that packaged food is higher in fat and sodium than homemade food, and those who are able to make from scratch also save money. It's like schools are being forced to feed kids the packaged stuff by a system trying to please the big businesses. I am saddened that you worry about your own anonymity, because this is something that is happening in all schools – not just yours. And you are concerned with the children's health. Sad that something like that can put your livelihood in jeopardy. But real lunches, with pennies pinched cooked by real people. It doesn't have to be organic or whole grain for me, just something made by a human hand and served to the kids. Surely that isn't more expensive than buying from a box?

  14. Anonymous February 23, 2010 at 4:25 pm #

    i spent most of my school life in south-east asia, so i guess i could share a different experience.

    we had different food stalls in the canteen/tuckshop, so the school was able to cater to different needs of the students. It's a multicultural country, so we get a wide variety of foods, and there was a stall selling halal food as well. All food was made on location. Students make their own choices about what food they want to have. Teachers often ate the same food, though at a different time. There was no such thing as 'kiddy-food', food served were just smaller-portions of what you could get outside.

    Rice and noodles were the main carbs – things were mainly boiled, steamed, fried. Hardly any deepfried stuff, if i recall correctly.

    Mrs Q, I would love for you to travel to another country to see how school meals are done. (If time and finances allow. I think it would be a great experience.)

    This is hardly an addition to the wishlist, but I just thought it would be interesting if we would get some comparisons between countries…

  15. CACuriousSoul February 23, 2010 at 6:03 pm #

    I definitely agree with the fruit… it should be actual, whole, unprocessed fruit as opposed to fruit cups and the like. And cut up, especially apples, is much better as my son (who is seven) is much more likely to finish all of his apple slices than a whole, unsliced apple).

    Also, for younger kids, 3rd grade and younger, you should get a pre-packed lunch because, at my son's elementary school, they are letting the kids pick and choose what they want and guess what my son hardly ever picks? Fruit, veggies and even milk. They shouldn't get a choice, they aren't old enough to know how to choose or be responsible for choosing.

    After I saw what my son’s school was choosing to serve their elementary school students (nachos as an entree, for one), I started making his lunches for health reasons, even though I qualified for the low-income discount of 40-cents (what a bargain! but not good for his health). After a few days of this, I started noticing that pretty much no matter what I gave him like bananas and apples and mini carrots, he ate them all so giving smaller kids a pre-packed lunch at the school (like I used to get) should be re-instituted.

    Lunch time length might also need to be reconsidered because it doesn't seem like my son has enough time to even finish his lunch. I had to cut out a couple items from his lunch because he was never finishing everything simply because of time constraints.

  16. Anonymous February 23, 2010 at 7:10 pm #

    My spouse's district in Maine does 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, and 11. Since this is a public school system with statewide mandates, I believe that's the way it's done up here. 6 and 7 are somewhat covered I think (I forgot to ask specifically), and #1, well, kids like pizza and hot dogs, so it's not going to happen.

  17. Phoebe Baker February 23, 2010 at 9:07 pm #

    Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you!!!! Education is the key to success, right? (Or one of many keys)So you and everyone else on this blog are educating us! We LOVE IT! Thank-you for helping us learn how to provide better things for our children, and our world. Phoebe

  18. katlogan February 24, 2010 at 3:34 am #

    I would certainly love to see milk without preservatives in it. My Kindergarten daughter tried to drink the regular milk from the school, but the taste of the preservatives kept her from finishing it. She brings a packed lunch most days, so now I put milk in her lunch. On days when she buys (3-4 times per month), she gets the chocolate milk. I would happily have flavored milk off the menu and milk from the local dairy brought in. I need to go watch Jamie Oliver on TED!

  19. Anonymous February 24, 2010 at 3:43 am #

    Amen, sister! I was shocked to discover that the PB&J at my kids' schools arrived premade in sealed plastic containers. Worse than airplane food (For you younguns, yes, airplanes used to serve food. When I was a kid, they weren't even half bad. I remember great box lunches for kids of 4 quarter sandwiches with 4 different fillings. That might be something the schools could think about. Kids might have a quarter of something they are familiar with, and then try a quarter of something new.) And the styrofoam everything. I thought we were supposed to be more, not less environmentally aware, than when I was a kid. Even if they just had permanent trays, rather than styrofoam trays, that would cut down on a lot of trash.

    I understand what some folks are saying about not letting younger kids pick because then they don't even take the fruit and veggies, but I'm not sure if that's the answer, either. The amount of totally untouched food that gets tossed in school cafeterias, even by those who bring their own lunches, is staggering. I would hate to exacerbate that.

  20. Anonymous February 24, 2010 at 8:13 pm #

    Miss Anonymous,

    Have you talked with a school lunch director lately. Do you realize that along with woefully underfunding education as a whole our government has placed school lunch funding about as low on the list as possible? Do you understand that lunch programs, while being red taped into a corner, do not have the ability to buy local, buy discount, or substitute certain items out of their programs? The restrictions are stringent, the encouragement for creativity is zero, and the consequences for setting a toe out of line are immense.
    I like your idea of slicing fruit for kids to grab and go; I like your idea of a fresh spinach salad or salad bar option daily; your thoughts on reducing the amount of red meat and substituting chicken or healthy fish are all great. Figure out how to fund it. Unhealthy food is cheap to make so if the American people want healthier food in schools they better quit acting like funding the education system is a waste of time and start giving some meaningful funding and usable flexibility to administrators and program directors. In the end if we're going to get rid of obesity it's going to cost.

  21. Anonymous February 26, 2010 at 2:45 am #

    I 100% agree with every suggestion that you put up here. I'm pretty appalled by the fact taht everything you've pictured is wrapped up in seperate plastic wrappers; it doesn't instill good values about reducing waste or good eating habits in children (eventually, if it doesn't come in a plastic wrapper, it won't be considered food to them. I also think schools should initiate coposting projects and have some kind of cooperative deal with local farms. I'm at a college in MA right now, and we ship out several tons of compost per year to farms in the state. We also use "spudware" (utensils made from potatoes and corn, it's a real trip that public schools should look into). I really commend what you're doing; someone needed to step up.

  22. Anonymous February 27, 2010 at 3:49 pm #

    At my school we did most of those. We got pizza only the last day before summer vacation, never had hot dogs, and were always offered hot, healthy meals that they made in the kitchen, including vegetables every day. The fruit was always offered and it was fresh. Half the days we also could choose to have a yoghurt instead (no other alternatives). Kids with allergies got alternatives especially for them. Everything was served on real plates, and we got real cups; almost nothing ever broke. Juniors and seniors had the choice of salad instead of the first course, and the salad never went untouched!
    Also, when I was in elementary (different school) third and fourth graders helped to plant and care for a little garden, and though we didn't actually eat any of the food, it really was a great learning experience.

  23. Dee February 28, 2010 at 6:47 pm #

    I pack my two sons' lunches every single day. I was a reading specialsit at our local elementary school, and I can tell you that I forgot my lunch, I would do without. Our cafeteria ladies were grouchy, it always smelled bad, and they were hearding kids to quickly eat lunch and get outside to play. We had real lunch ladies (still grouchy) growing up in California (in the 80's) with "real food". It was prepared on site, and not really "healthy" but we didn't have chubby or overweight kids like we do now. The system needs an overhaul to say the least.

  24. Dee February 28, 2010 at 7:04 pm #

    I sat in on legislation in the state of Colorado to remove vending machines that offered sodas and unhealthy snacks on schools campuses. The bill was entered and then rejected by the republicans due to "government over-reach". That is part of the problem right there. I suggest feeding the government officials a school lunch for a month at the capitol building. (warm milk included) Yum!

  25. me March 1, 2010 at 3:49 am #

    I think you have a great list here! Here are some additions:

    Less sodium
    No HFCS
    BRING BACK RECESS!!!

    And some switches, like sweet potato fries for regular ones. I think a baked potato bar would be fun for the kids, too. I really admire & support what you are doing here.

  26. Kelly March 4, 2010 at 5:38 am #

    Actual fresh food, cooked by hand. And not boiled until it tastes like nothing and is a mush. And real meat, thats fresh. Not those "meat patties" that resemble no animal ive ever seen before.

  27. Chrissi March 6, 2010 at 12:14 am #

    I would love to see things like sweet potato fries, mashed cauliflower, even creamed spinach could be an improvement! And a great way to introduce kids to certain 'icky' veggies that they might not otherwise try.

    I'd also love to see waste-free or low-waste lunches – which we began doing here at home as well as vermicomposting. It's been such a fun experiment in recycling for my homeschooled 2nd grader. =D

    Chrissi, Cyber School Mom
    http://cyberschoolmomdiaries.blogspot.com/

  28. Andrea Reed March 14, 2010 at 4:30 pm #

    I love the idea of a proper home-eco class that teaches true nutrition. Like Jamie Oliver says, teach them 10 meals they can make themselves. These kids could go home and be educating their parents! Plus, a lot are latch-key kids, and would be empowered to fend for themselves.

    In jr high school, I planned it so I took Home-Ec in the period right before lunch. The idea was that I would get to eat before lunch and bypass the school lunches at least 3 times per week. You know I don't ever remember learning how to cook something that I would use in the 'real world'. My most memorable lesson was how to make broth using the meat from turkey necks. That lesson helped me not want to eat that day!! Yuck!

  29. Becky March 15, 2010 at 10:04 pm #

    I have only started following your blog today after seeing a link while browsing the headlines. I worked for a local middle school while I was in college. I was appalled by the items that were available to them for their lunches. One of the big favorites was flaming hot Cheetos. So many times while I was working there I considered changing my major and becoming a Dietitian instead of a Graphic Artist so that I could work exclusively on bettering the food options in schools. I was laid off and lost the passion I had behind it enough that I haven't thought enough about it since. I think it's wonderful that you haven't lost your steam like I did.

    On the note of the dishwashers and the disposable packaging, it was the first thing I noticed when I looked at your first picture! All that waste! When I went to elementary school, also in the 80's, the older classes took turns working in the cafeteria. They learned work experience and were expected to do an array of chores. I myself worked several weeks washing dishes, portioning plates, unwrapping packages, serving, etc. I think America has gotten so obsessed with the quickest, cheapest and easiest methods that they lose sight of the cheap and educational resources they can employ… like the students themselves! I believe we were even allowed to eat lunch for free that day as a compensation.

  30. Terri L March 17, 2010 at 9:17 pm #

    I just started reading your blog today and couldn't agree with you more! I especially hear you on the idea of serving less packaged goods and more fresh made food. My kids school offers those Uncrustable sandwiches instead of making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, for example. I realize that the school is saving by not having to pay someone to make sandwiches but the thought of my kids eating those uncrustable things makes me cringe. Luckily my daughter thinks they are gross! 🙂

  31. Koroush March 17, 2010 at 9:46 pm #

    I'd like some normal food….

    Like something I could get at paneras or corner bakery.

    They charge as much as they do at any restaurant, but the difference is that panera gives us real food… while school gives us… I don't even know what.

  32. vendela n March 17, 2010 at 9:52 pm #

    I don't think it's really about what it is but how they make it. Although I would still not eat it school lunches wouldn't be that bad if they didn't over-salt, over-cheese, and over-grease. The real problem is that they don't actually make the lunches

  33. Anonymous March 17, 2010 at 11:15 pm #

    exactly with the sli;ced fresh fruit thing… i love it when they give kids oranges, and expect them to get them open with a spork or their bare hands… riiight… especially elementary kids. they ALWAYS did that at my school. Or another favorite was the bananas that you can't peel open… fun times.

  34. Karen March 18, 2010 at 12:42 am #

    Hi! I think your right on some things, but my school ( i'm a student) does 1, 2, 3, and 4, which i think pretty much every school here in the bay area does… our lunches are pretty good too, from brand name companies! only a little of the stuff is "home made" but, i go to a junior high, so we get stuff in a lunch cart, thats out side, so everything has to be packaged…;D in our elementary schools, everything is served on disposable trays and we even have a recycling and compost system going on! also, all the food is fresh (or as fresh as it can be) and we always have a salad bar with fresh salad, dressings, and unprocessed fruits. i think what your doing is great, but i just wanted to let you know, some districts arent as crappy (sorry, i had no other word to describe your food)… the stuff you eat looks kinda gross, i feel sorry for your school!

  35. SpiffySilpion March 18, 2010 at 12:42 am #

    Mmm. Celery with peanut butter and raisins sounds good right about now (it's 7:40PM and I'm sitting at a library circulation desk and it's QUIET in here). 🙂

    I love this blog! A Facebook, co-worker friend posted it on her profile. Keep up the good work!

  36. Anonymous March 18, 2010 at 12:51 am #

    How hard/expensive would it be to provide individual cups of real/quality PB and J (like you get at a diner or Denny's) and allow the kids to make their OWN PBJ sandwich on bread?
    Add a piece of fruit and bag of carrots.

  37. Anonymous March 18, 2010 at 3:09 pm #

    i would just like to say that you have ate pizza multiple times during the course of a month but here in my school(i dont eat lunch, used to but this year i leave early) pizza is on the line at least once a week mostly on friday, ive seen it burnt and gooey dowey so it runs when you hold it up, but the reason im telling you this is because here some form of mystery chicken is offered literally everyday.

  38. Anonymous March 18, 2010 at 3:28 pm #

    I am so thankful to find your blog. I have been feeling discouraged about this lately due to the changes I have been trying to push at my sons' preschool.

    My complaints:
    – the lack of whole grains;
    – the use of processed meat (hot dogs, lunch meat, turkey pepperoni- processed meat is full of chemicals and has been linked to cancer);
    – empty carbs (white flour, rice cakes, certain cereals like corn flakes, sugary jam and pancake syrup);
    – trans-fat (packaged snacks like Nutri-grain bars, and crackers);
    – processed cheese;
    – junk (like tater tots – and they don't have these a lot, but still….)

    I wanted them to ask not only "Why not serve _____" but also "Why serve it?" If it is contributing something bad and not contributing something good, it should not be on the menu.

    I thought these things could be easily substituted by low cost, healthy things, like those I make at home on a budget: whole wheat muffins, hummus pitas, salad, real cheese, casseroles, inexpensive meat that can be roasted and cut, pastas without "mystery meat", milk and fruit smoothies, etc.

    I called the administration and they had a number of meetings with me. They also called in the County Nutritionist, who was prompted to purchase a software program into which you input a weekly menu and it provides an analysis of how the menu meets/exceeds the recommended amounts and limits of nutrients. This was VERY helpful for the big issues, like fat and sodium, because it is impartial- unlike an angry mom!

    There were some positive changes made, like all the bread products were replaced with whole grains, the crackers were substituted with lower fat versions, the breakfast cereals were replaced with whole grains, and anything requiring syrup was eliminated. And as I look at the public school lunches, our center's food looks downright perfect!

    However, there were some fundamental issues that have been very hard for me to come to terms with. One is, of course, money. There is limited money for food, so you get things that are cheap, like hot dogs. And there is limited money for staff, which means no one is available to make a hummus pita to replace that hot dog. No one can slice cheese. No one can be paid to work in the afternoon, so the afternoon snack can't be fresh. There is limited money for kitchen supplies, so they can't purchase an industrial slicer to slice cheese or fresh made meats. The cost issue just blocked me at every direction.

    The other issue is that not everyone cares. Not everyone agrees on what to eliminate. Now, I am not telling you I would never allow my kid to have a hot dog or a tater tot, but to me these foods are the exception, not the rule. They should not be institutionalized. They shouldn't be part of a school menu any more than should birthday cake. This is bad policy because this is not good food for growing healthy kids, and because it creates a taste for junk in our kids. Moreover, if I decide to feed my kids junk, that is my choice as a parent, but I resent the center (or soon, the school!) for choosing to feed my kids junk. In my more radical moments, I have compared it to the school teaching them to smoke while at home I am trying to teach the hazards of cigarettes.

    As I said, we have made some good changes at our preschool. But when I look at the enormity of revamping the public school system, which I intend to take on in the next few years, I am very discouraged. The two issues of lack of money and lack of urgency are so frustrating – and I get so mad that it is very hard to remain diplomatic and constructive.

    So thank you for being out there and making me see I am not the only one who thinks it is not right to feed our future generation unhealthful food.

  39. Anonymous March 18, 2010 at 4:16 pm #

    I can't understand how having pre-packaged meals shipped in is more cost-effective than buying some fresh food locally. The board members and government officials seem to think that cutting out workers and hours is a more cost effective solution.

  40. Ginny March 18, 2010 at 8:00 pm #

    I'm a highschooler right now (sophmore) and I would love to be able to learn hands-on how our food is made. It'd be very exciting! We have a cooking-class at our school, where we can learn nutrition and stuff and how to make home meals, but I'm not in it. I wouldn't want to waste a class period on that when I have other electives I'd rather do. I can tell you that the room smells REALLY good though, and my stomach growls every time I pass it.

    Also the dishwasher thing sounds cool, but I think staff would be afraid kids would try and steal them. I wouldn't be surprised if plates got stolen or destroyed just because kids felt like doing it or weren't thinking :/

  41. Anonymous March 19, 2010 at 4:24 am #

    my school has a thing called a deli. its where students can go buy a sandwich and build their own. we have certain types of bread and veggies 2 types of cheese 4 types of meat and you can also get salads. also were allowed to buy a "prostart" lunch which is what the culinary students prepare for the school. its limited quantity but it is organic and healthy!

  42. Laura March 19, 2010 at 6:47 am #

    @Ginny Waste a class period on learning about food? The concepts "waste" and "learning about food" don't belong together! You'll need to eat for your whole life, and unless you want to live off take-out and pre-packaged food you'll need to learn about food. Not all schools even offer a class about food and cooking, so I strongly urge you to take advantage of this class as an opportunity to learn an extremely practical life skill. You still have a couple years to "squeeze" it in. Better that than squeezing into your clothes / developing health issues later.

    Or who knows, maybe your folks are teaching you to cook? I must say, though, my mom is a terrific cook, and she taught me to be a terrific cook. I am creative and resourceful in the kitchen. I am 28 and I am still struggling to learn about portion control and fitness (P.E. – now there's another joke!). Habits you learn as a child are SO difficult to unlearn as an adult- I figure it's taking me many times the effort it would have been to learn these skills as a child.

  43. kaity March 24, 2010 at 1:46 pm #

    i agree with all of your ideas, except for making the nutritional stats available to children. Children (especially at that "awkward" age) shouldnt be exposed, or concerned with the amount of calories or grams of fat in their food, I believe that only sets them up for a life of unhealthy eating. As someone who is in recovery from an eating disorder, i can safely say that my years when i had no idea what a calorie was or what was "bad" food were the best years of my life, it represented years of freedom and carefreeness. Now, everyday is filled with looking at the nutritional stats and making sure i dont eat "bad" food (ie a slice of pizza, a few fries)

    Kids are already faced with enough stressors in society today, theres no need to create stress over what they should or shouldnt be eating

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