The Parent-Teacher-Child Connection: School Lunches vs. Government

Saturday, November 19, 2011

School Lunches vs. Government

First, read this article in the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/16/us/politics/congress-blocks-new-rules-on-school-lunches.html?_r=1&src=tp&smid=fb-share

Now consider the ramifications....

In the twenty years that I taught at a local high school, I gained 60 lbs, which I managed to lose over the past two years since retirement.  I ate the school lunches much of the time while my girls were little and I had no time to prepare a fresh lunch for myself.  So, in the interest of time, I ate the breaded (translate that to fried) chicken sandwich (see all the carbs?), french fries (more carbs), and a can of soda from the faculty room vending machine (not diet - I don't like the aftertaste, so yes, more carbs).  As a Family Consumer Sciences teacher, I should have known better, but I disregarded my education in the interest of convenience.

Young bodies are still getting the same very poor nutritional choices at lunch.  Is it any surprise then that our children are overweight?  We force them to sit all day long in their seats, then feed them fat and carbs at lunch.  Their only exercise is during their gym classes and walking through the hallways.

I'm sure a creative cafeteria manager could develop ways to serve nutritious foods that children won't discard while that person also considers the cost to the school district.  I agree that carbs are inexpensive foods. Protein in the form of meat and dairy products is more expensive.  And fresh fruits and vegetables the most expensive. Why is it that the healthiest foods are the most expensive?  I don't have a good answer for that question.

Perhaps the Federal Government should be considering ways to subsidize only the healthy parts of the school lunch program.  Districts would pay full price for the carbs, fats, and sweets while the government subsidizes the healthier proteins and fresh produce.  Hmmm... nifty idea - think it would fly?

In addition, schools need to implement healthy eating programs in much the same way that they implement anti-bullying and character development programs.  After all, the health of our future citizens is in the hands of bureaucrats more worried about their support bloc than the health of the children of their constituents. 

What's more important - economy or health?  Personally, I don't think we should have to decide!  So until the government gets its priorities straight, I recommend something I should have done thirty years ago:  Get up fifteen minutes earlier to prepare a health bring-to-school lunch for you and your children.  Here are some helpful links:
http://www.healthychild.com/healthy-school-lunches/healthy-school-lunch-ideas-for-kids/
http://www.parents.com/kids/nutrition/lunch/healthy-school-lunches-snacks/
http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/recipes/healthy/ideas-kids-school-lunches

Happy parenting and Happy teaching!

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