Breakfast in the classroom: example two

Beef sausage biscuit, applesauce, and milk
This breakfast is from before spring break. I don’t really remember anything else about that morning. The kids ate most of it. They were hungry.
Do you guys eat biscuit sandwiches frequently? I associate them with McDonald’s breakfasts. I can’t remember the last time I had a biscuit sandwich for breakfast. I like bacon more than sausage, but I don’t put either one into a sandwich. We only eat some kind of meat-based protein on the weekends. During the week our breakfasts are cereal because it’s fast. Sometimes when I’m in a really big hurry and don’t have time for cereal, I spread peanut butter on a Van’s frozen waffle and eat it in the car.
Last week a few commenters got upset that some people said they wouldn’t eat this breakfast because they want organic this or grass-fed that. The bottom line is that I want my students to be fed. So I’m grateful for  the food on their behalf.
However, the fact that the milk is not labeled as “hormone-free” worries me. With some female students in fourth grade getting their periods, I have to wonder. I’m not saying it has to be organic, but hormone-free would be a nice start.
And any Internet research about beef will make you want to purchase grass-fed beef. It’s not the latest yuppie food trend — the ancestors of today’s cows were eating grass. It’s only just within the past 60 odd years that our country had a surplus of corn and decided to feed it to livestock. I mean, grass should be free, right? It’s grass!
When I first started the blog, occasional commenters mentioned ‘corn subsidies.’ I thought they were being extreme. Sometimes readers suggested I watch Food, Inc. I resisted. Finally, I relented and watched the movie in September. I was blown away. Changed forever. That’s when I started questioning everything.
I think that it’s important to acknowledge:
1) Everyone wants to feed hungry kids the best we can afford.
2) Everyone is on a food journey. We’re all in different places.
3) This is not about judging people. It’s about doing right by the kids.
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23 thoughts on “Breakfast in the classroom: example two

  1. Some other great documentaries are King Corn, Food Matters, and The Future of Food-all are streaming on Netflix if you have it 🙂

    Another one that I just watched is a 13 minute video from commercial feedlots/slaughter houses, and it's horrific. I had already seen Food inc, but watching this totally made me make the switch to local, grass fed/pastured, and humanly raised meat. *very graphic-do NOT watch this one around kids*

    I still have a smaller grocery budget, for my family size, but I menu plan, cook and bake from scratch, and manage to fit the local, organic, whole foods into the budget. It's definitely a challenge though!

    Love number 2-everyone is at different stages in this journey, and everyone, regardless where they're at needs to be respectful and not judge others. Something I need a reminder about myself sometimes!

  2. Point of Clarification. No anamal based milk is "hormone free". It can be labeled as no added hormones if the animals have not been given hormone treatments, but some hormones are naturally occuring in the product to begin with.

  3. King Corn is a fantastic film about the corn industry! It is interesting and very informative.

  4. While I think it's important to make sure school-age kids are both eating healthy as well as getting full, entries like this do make me question…if we have to choose which is most important. Personally, I tend to lean toward the latter being most important to handle first and then throwing in/testing better foods along the way. Not that I'm condoning unhealthy foods for kids, but in many districts all over it would be much easier to jump the first hurdle then work on the second.

  5. I really like your three points, but have to address what "1) Everyone wants to feed hungry kids the best we can afford." means to me. It doesn't mean getting the most calories into kids the cheapest way possible. Many folks were criticized recently for being concerned about the nutrition of the school breakfasts provided. They were labeled elitist and worse. But, there is a reason that there is a correlation between obesity and poverty. Cheap food is often of poor quality. (subsidies to the corn and soybean industries are a reason for that, but that is another post). That is what is causing so many poor children to be overweight and even develop what used to be called "adult-onset" diabetes as children. It is not elitist to want there to be less sugar and simple carbs in our kids diets.

  6. As far as breakfast sandwiches, no we don't serve them often. On Saturday mornings I tend to spend more time on breakfast and will sometimes make both biscuits and sausage and sometimes we stick them together. Since we try not to eat fast food anymore, sausage biscuits (since they have to be homemade) are a rare thing. Kind of follows Michael Pollan's food rule #39 "Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself." So, sausage biscuits only occur on the rare mornings when I want to make both sausage and biscuits both from scratch. By the way, you can sub up to 1/4 to 1/3 whole wheat pastry flour for regular and still get a good southern biscuit. 🙂

  7. I have to admit, I almost NEVER eat fast food, however my great weakness a few times per year are the breakfast sandwiches. Not the burgers. Not the nuggets. Not the milkshakes. Breakfast on a bun. I am such a sucker for them! I know they're crap, I know they're bad for me… but two or three times a year I finally break down and grab a breakfast sandwich. I particularly love the sausage kind (I'm not a big fan of bacon I don't cook myself, I'm really picky about how I like it cooked), or if we're really going whole hog, the kind that come on a croissant. *dies* I totally do "the Homer drool" whenever I think about breakfast sandwiches. haha.

    The one interesting thing is that I almost never make them at home, and it's exactly BECAUSE they're so bad for me. By my logic, if I make them at home, I've still got a bag of english muffins, a whole package of bacon or sausage… and who am I kidding? I'd make that many and eat them all gluttonously. So even though they are significantly worse, I consider it the lesser of two evils to just buy one sandwich once a season and know that I won't be able to conveniently grab another one any time soon.

    Like Mrs. Q and girl scout cookies, I just don't know if I could withstand the temptation if I was able to make/eat a breakfast sandwich every day. I make sure oatmeal and toast are my only options simply because I know I'd dive headfirst into the fatty stuff given half a chance. *guilty grin*

    I agree about the quantity v. quality dilemma. I have to say that FOR NOW, I think the first hurdle should be to make sure their little tummies have something to be digesting every morning. It's so hard to focus when you haven't eaten anything all morning. If that can be alleviated in some way, I say jump that hurdle first, and once we've got that program under way, figure out how to make it healthier.

    You know… if the breakfasts are being eaten IN THE CLASSROOM, I think deciding on the breakfast options should be up to a vote by the teachers. They should have a say on whether their kids are eating a bowl of sugar crappies first thing every morning.

  8. Just to clarify – grass is hardly free! A good pasture will possibly support one animal per acre and $60 an acre is considered quite cheap in my area. This also requires much more land – we have 200 cattle on a 4-5 acre feedlot (and they're by no means crowded – we're licensed for 500 head!). Plus you have to add in the costs of fencing (fence posts are expensive! plus the wire, a solar fencer/electric costs, and the equipment/time to put it up) and water (tanks and hauling it to the pasture) if it's not naturally flowing all year round (if it is, you're going to be fixing fence every time the water gets high). Cattle will drink 20+ gallons per day. You also have the mileage and time of going out to check the cattle which is a significantly higher cost than walking out your back door to check them on the feedlot.

    Also, I'm in a northern climate, and there is only grazeable pasture for maybe six months of the year. The other six months they'd be fed hay (dried grass) which can cost $100 a ton to buy (20 cows will knock off a ton every week or two). If you make your own hay, you have the land rent, the seed, and the equipment needed for haying – tractor, haybine/mower, rake, baler, racks with a truck/tractor to haul it away, plus a tractor/skid loader to load/unload it and a place to store it. This isn't mentioning the time, fuel and wear on equipment involved in making 4 passes over the land (cut, rake, bale, and pick up). You also need facilities to keep the cattle during the winter.

    You also have to realize that it takes 3-5 years to fatten a grass-fed animal. It's only 18 months for corn-fed. Do you think the farmers would be able to keep up with the current demand when it would take twice as much time to raise them? Mind you, they would also be raising fewer cattle since pasture/hay land require more space than a feedlot. Imagine what you'd pay for that beef!

    ***I'm not saying grass-fed beef is a bad thing – I think the move toward more natural methods is great! BUT I think people need to be aware of the realities the farmers face – these systems are not practical for everybody.

  9. I tried posting about the grass thing earlier, but it must have gotten lost, and Melissa answered that better than I could anyway.

    I had a breakfast sandwich yesterday: homemade biscuit with cheddar cheese, fried egg, and a sausage patty that I made from ground sausage. If I had a bowl of cereal before walking the dogs, guaranteed I will be so hungry that I will be stopping at McD's for a sausage biscuit on the way home.

  10. The amount of judging that goes on here is RIDICULOUS. Do some of you actually listen to yourselves? Please stop criticizing and one upping each other and actually do something.

  11. I love breakfast biscuits! For years, my before-school breakfast was a breakfast biscuit, hash browns and half a diet Pepsi (my dad was responsible for breakfast, and this is what we got–not necessarily the most nutritionally sound, but I loved it at the time). I can't remember the last time I had a breakfast biscuit, but I do enjoy one every once in a while. Since I started reducing my sugar consumption, I don't eat as many bread products. I still eat tons of eggs and breakfast meat, though.

    I agree with some of the previous posters who want to point out that hoping for students to receive a filling, low sugar breakfast isn't necessarily being elitist. All those carbs in the morning will leave the kids starving within an hour, and the sugar will negatively impact their weight. Egg-based dishes are cheap and nutritionally sound–even a hardboiled egg with fresh fruit and milk would be a great breakfast!

    Also: I second the King Corn recommendation! It's great stuff.

  12. Melissa's post about the costs of grass-fed beef is great –very informative. And YES, I'm all for eating less beef and paying for all that extra work. Most people eat way too much meat anyway –BECAUSE it's been made so cheap. We'd all be healthier if grass-fed beef was the only kind raised and we actually paid the costs associated with it. Instead, people eat too much crappy corn-fed beef and pay the health care costs later in life.

  13. The single, solitary one thing that our school lunch program does well is get milk from a local dairy that is hormone free.

    Alas, the milk is frequently sour and typically not cold, so I have to send milk in my kids' lunch bags. I really can't fathom it, but I buy the same milk in the same small cartons, and it's colder in their lunch bags with an ice pack than it is from the crate that they set out at school.

    I'm so frustrated with our school lunch program, I could scream. But I have no support from any of the other parents, and as long as it's just me, I'm the mom of the freakishly picky kids, not somebody who has something important to say.

  14. "Everyone is on a food journey. We're all in different places."

    very nice:)

    i never ever had a sausage biscuit except from Mc Ds.and those days are loooong gone!!

  15. I sometimes get a breakfast sandwich from the company cafeteria where I work–English muffin with egg and cheese, no meat. Probably still not great for me, but I do know it's made with fresh ingredients, since I see the cook crack the egg right onto the grill.

    And, I'm in the "better for kids to eat something rather than nothing" camp. Of course it would be great if they all had freshly squeezed orange juice and omelets made with cage-free eggs and organic baby spinach, but realistically, my daughter has breakfast at home and still doesn't eat like that (it's either a waffle or a banana pretty much every day) so it's a bit much to ask of a school food program.

  16. I know I wasn't the only girl to get their period when I was in grade 4. That was in the early 70's and I can be pretty sure that our milk did not have hormones added. I also see that about the same percentages of girls mature at the same rate now as back then.

  17. Last year I read "My Little Red Book," which is a collection of women's stories about getting their first period, and I was really surprised at how young many of them had been at the time, even decades in the past–the one I remember in particular was a lady who had started at age 11 in 1916! I think we're all so used to hearing about how hormones and chemicals in food are making girls mature younger, that we forget there have always been girls who mature early, late and in between. Not that hormones and chemicals are a good thing–they're not–but I don't think they're responsible for every 10-year-old who needs a bra, either.

  18. I am 38 and also had my period the summer before 4th grade. I'm curious about the stats, as the number of girls at my kids' elementary is about the same as was at mine in the early 80's. My mom and grandmother were also early "bloomers."

  19. Same here–got my period while still in elementary school. As did another relative. As did our GRANDMOTHER. It certainly seems to be more of a genetic trait, in our family at least.

    I have heard that things like obesity will cause early periods, however I was rail-thin, very healthy, very active, and still am. I know there are exceptions to the rules though, so I'm not claiming myself as the norm.

    I do recall reading that the percentage of girls getting their periods young is up significantly, so it's not that it was nonexistent before, it's just more prevalent now.

    I do wonder though, if it is happening more and more, what's causing it? The hormones in milk? In soy? Obesity being on the rise? Artificial chemicals in our food? Too much sugar? Global warming? (ok that last one was meant to be a bit of a joke)

  20. People who actually pay for their own food get choices about grass-fed this and hormone-free that. Leeches sucking off the government teat? Eat what you're given and be happy. Sorry, but my tax dollars aren't intended to provide gourmet fare.

  21. Wow, that last anonymous is not very nice.

    Leeches? Since when are our school children leeches? I'd much rather we feed these kids well so they can learn and become good members of society than let them go hungry and not learn.

    And, I don't have any children so it isn't like I am sticking up for my kids.

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