So what are the kids eating? Part 2

9

September 25, 2012 by dairycarrie

After lots of discussion on yesterday’s post and previous questions I had asked on Facebook one thing about the new school lunch plan stood out to me. I kept waiting to see posts from moms and dads about the weird stuff the school was trying to get their kids to eat. I had figured that after looking at the sample menu the USDA posted this would be one of the first things to hit the social media world. The absence of complaints made me wonder exactly what was being served at school. I was curious enough about what kids were actually seeing and eating that I sent out a plea to parents to tell me what the kids were eating and a few let me send a little questionnaire out to their kids.

So this is what they had to say…..

First I asked them if they had noticed differences from last year’s lunch…

“Yes, you are required to take a veggie, no salt, serving sizes are smaller about half the size.” -Asaf, age 15

“Yes, portion cut in half, can’t ask for more, can’t have seconds, no salt, forced to take the veggies, no bread, whole wheat tortillas, food looks greasier.” -Joe, age 16

“Yes, they don’t give as much meat; whole wheat tortilla was yucky, dry and soft” -Ian, age 8

I am noticing a pattern here…

But school lunch can’t be all bad right? I asked the kids what meals they liked the best this year… And got lots of Pizza and Chicken Nugget answers as well as Nachos and even a salad bar lover. But wait? Where are the turkey subs, whole wheat spaghetti, oven baked fish and the like that was touted on the new sample menu I showed yesterday?

I went to our school district’s website and had a look at the menu.

Wait, where is the Jicama?

I have to say I was pretty surprised that this was the menu. I mean there aren’t very many foods on here that are going to be foreign to kids. Sure some kids are still going to be picky eaters but over all this is a pretty kid friendly menu. Corn dogs, Pizza, Grilled Cheese, Uncrustables… Wait what!?!?! I thought this new menu was all about helping kids make healthier eating choices. This menu doesn’t exactly scream healthy eating to me. Maybe this menu is an example of how to market a product. Call it one thing but serve something different. I called in one of my favorite High School kids and had her take a picture of her lunch today.

This is what the menu says they had for lunch today.

Ok, so where is the abundance of veggies and fruit here?

Here is what was on her tray.

Ummm….. Houston we have a problem.

I asked her if there were other veggies available that she didn’t take? She said she passed on the iceberg lettuce. Seriously??? All of a sudden the comment I had from Amy, one of my in-law’s who is a teacher at an elementary school in Minnesota made sense. “To sum in up in one metaphor, we have gone from serving McDonald’s everyday, to serving Subway 4 days and McDonald’s one day a week. I don’t mind McDonald’s on the rare occasion, but we all know what McDonald’s every day does to a kid.”

So what does this new lunch program fix? Sure the whole wheat bun on the burger is better than the white bun. 1% Milk is lower in fat than 2%. And maybe those baked beans aren’t swimming in a sugar filled glaze. Overall I bet that this lunch is slightly more nutritious than what was served last year. And it’s smaller portions. So that’s good right? Let’s ask the kids….

How many days a week do you go home hungry at the end of the school day?
Everyday– Joe, 16.

1-2 Days– Ian, 8.

Everyday– Asaf, 15.

Most days– Kate, 12.

About 3 days– Will, 7.

Wow, that’s a lot of days where kids aren’t getting enough to eat at lunch to keep them full and focused at school. It seems like once the kids hit teen years they become more hungry. Wait… I am not a parent and I figured out that teenagers need to eat more than elementary school kids. Go figure!

So how much more food does a middle school kid get than a elementary school kid? The  USDA guidelines show that they allow the same amount of fruits, vegetables and milk for the two groups and they increase the amount of protein and grains by 1oz….. per week. No really. See for yourself. What about the big kids at the High School? How much more do they get than the tweens at the middle school? They are allowed an additional 2.5 cups of fruit each week and 1.25 cups of veggies than the younger kids, they get the same serving of milk and lucky them they get two additional ounces of grain and protein…. per week.

No wonder these kids are getting off the school bus hungry!

Now let’s talk about the poor kids.

I don’t mean those poor kids that have to eat smaller portions of food that isn’t exactly what it’s cracked up to be. I mean the kids that get on the bus hungry and go home to empty cupboards. The actual poor kids. These are the kids that are most affected by these changes. For all of you that have read on this long and are thinking “wow, this sucks, glad I pack my kid’s lunch” it’s time to listen up. I am calling you out and issuing you a challenge. I am thrilled to death that you can provide for your kids. It’s time to step up for the kids who eat school lunch because it’s free and that’s all their family can afford. It’s up to you moms and dads that pack your kids lunch to fight for those kids because let me tell you, if their parents can’t fill the cupboards they probably can’t be the advocates their kids need them to be. With literally millions of school kids receiving free or reduced lunch there are a lot of kids that need your help. 

What are you going to do to ensure the other kids in your kid’s class get enough to eat at school?

How many of these kids have enough to eat at home? Can you tell by just looking at them? I can’t.

Stay tuned for part 3 tomorrow…. I have a lot to say about this….

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9 thoughts on “So what are the kids eating? Part 2

  1. Mandy Deveno says:

    My son came home yesterday and said that he had Golden Grahams cereal for lunch! What? I don’t even buy that sugary crap. So much for cutting out the bad calories.

  2. MB says:

    I work at a school and have one half hour duty in the lunchroom. One of our lunches was spaghetti which always used to be very good. The day spaghetti was served, I noticed that 90% of the students were not eating any more than one forkful. I was very surprised. A fellow employee had the spaghetti, ate one forkful and stated spaghetti was awful. The spaghetti had no taste from lack of salt and other spices. The meals that are being chosen by students are the pizza, chicken nuggets, and other prepackaged items.

    I agree, the economically disadvantaged are not getting enough to eat as their only meals are breakfast and lunch at school. There are many problems with the new lunch regulations and we do need to be advocates for these children who need our HELP!

  3. Ian B says:

    Looking at the hamburger picture: Whole grain bun my foot. That’s probably got the absolute minimum amount of whole grain in it to qualify for the label. Meanwhile, everything on that tray with the possible exception of the hamburger patty itself is chock full of HFCS. You can even read it on the applesauce container (and someone PLEASE explain to me why we’re adding HFCS to the puree of a fruit whose juice is commonly used as a sweetener?) HFCS sends my daughter’s ADHD into overdrive and then her mood gets ugly as she gradually works it out of her system. We went and sat down with two 4″ binders at the district “nutrition” office to find out what she could and couldn’t have. Bread? Nope. Canned Fruit? forget it. Spaghetti? Nope. Salad dressing? only the caesar (thank goodness she actually LIKES caesar) She can have the “chicken” they serve there (which is never whole meat, always that nugget-like breaded paste that may or may not actually contain chicken). Thankfully, they actually have fresh veggies, which she’ll eat like crazy.

  4. Toni says:

    I was very sad after reading about these kids going home hungry. I’m sure it is hard for them to concentrate on their school work with empty stomachs. Something has to change!

  5. Amy Sipes says:

    I haven’t seen the problem that many others have. I watched…wondering what I was missing. My kids aren’t coming home hungry. They’ve mentioned very little about the changes. The only thing my daughter has mentioned is that she doesn’t like skim milk. She’ll get over it. Turns out, our school system had already been implementing most of the changes for a couple of years so this was just another day at school for our kids. Also, I often wonder what affect the parents have on the kids perception of the school lunch changes. They listen when we don’t realize it and many times mimic angst. My daughter should be eating vegetables. I’m all for it. She eats them at home. She doesn’t have a choice so eating them at school is just not that bizarre to her.

  6. […] less sense that usual I apologize. I am fighting a head cold. I hope you have read the first and the second post in this series. I have obviously spent way to much time thinking about schools. Last night I […]

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