If anyone has been paying attention lately, there’s been some big changes announced regarding schools and the hot lunch program. It wasn’t anything done locally, so don’t take your school board to task on it, but it was done at the federal level…and I think that they definitely need to hear about it.
I don’t want to be stirring a pot here, but first of all, I think we all can fully agree that the school lunch program is in NO way responsible for the obesity issue in our children. In fact, I just heard another commercial yesterday that made the claim that school lunch is one of the only places where children receive a balanced meal (free, if they qualify).
So which is it? Is our school lunch a great, balanced meal, or is it making our children obese?
First of all, if we’re looking to blame schools for our weight issues, then we better not look at the lunch program and look instead at the rest of the day. Physical education, sports, dance, etc…all sorts of extracurricular activities and physically-demanding activities are being ignored and are losing numbers every year. Hours of homework take place of playing outside after school.
But again, aside from the homework demands, most of the influence on physical activity must come from the parents, not the school.
So let’s go back to the lunch issue. I’m all for expanding our children’s palates. I’m all for offering up greens, and reds, and pinks, and oranges, and browns. Pick a color, any color. Go for it! But there is so much that I don’t agree with.
For example, the calorie limit and how it’s set. I think it’s pretty obvious, but perhaps we need to spell it out. Children’s needs are different. I know, shocking revelation, right? But let’s look at that.
Take for example my soon-to-be kindergartener who is about 46 inches tall and weighs about 50 pounds, he needs a lot fewer calories and a smaller serving size than my 8-year-old who is 61 inches tall and weighs 105 pounds; yet they’ll be served the same meal, same portion.
Another bit of ridiculousness: no more leftovers. Meaning that if the school cooks too much spaghetti on day one, the spaghetti cannot be offered again on day two. Unless it can be salvaged into another meal, it’s wasted. I guess I shouldn’t expect a government that’s full of waste to use resource-saving methods, but cutting out leftovers? I’m not sure that’s where our energy should be focused.
The change that is going to make the biggest impact on our household will not be the increase in the cost of school lunch, the changes to the meal plans or the increased color palate of the food…no, the biggest change will be purely monetary.
Seconds will no longer be offered at no cost to those that need a little more to tide them over through the day. And it doesn’t matter if you qualify for a free lunch or not, every child is charged the same. Apparently if we’re going to feed our children excessive amounts of food at lunch in school, then it’s only fair if we only overfeed those that can afford to seek professional help to lose the weight, right? Sorry, that wasn’t very polite of me.
The one who will feel the pinch the most from the new plan will not be just the student, or the parent hearing the complaints. It will be the teacher that is dealing with lethargic, hungry children who are counting down the minutes until they can head home and gorge themselves on whatever they find in the cupboards. But don’t worry, I’m sure it’ll be kale and collard greens and carrots.
Although a package of M&M’s has every color in it, too.
Trust me, I have a lot more to say about these changes…but will revisit this in the future. For more information on the changes, you can read the rules here. I will add other links as I come across them.