Why the fuss about lunch?

I’ve been getting a lot of questions, some support and a little flak about my position on the changes to the school foods rule. And I thought maybe I should explain where I’m coming from, so that those that are reading my opinions can understand my point of view a little better.

Let me start off by saying that I was not raised to stand my ground. In fact, if anything, it was the opposite. My mother is a “pleaser.” She will do anything/everything to not make waves, go with the flow, whatever phrase you want to use. (My oldest is just like her.) My dad has his opinions, and you would never change his mind…but you’d never hear him talk about it either.

If there were changes made to my school lunch plans when I was in school, I would have had to live with it…and live with whatever was being served. Even if it wasn’t enough. Not because my parents didn’t care, but more because they were from an era where you never questioned authority and never stood up to what was “law.”

Times have changed.

There are many, many things that I like about the new rules. I love the addition of fresh fruits/vegetables. I love the ideas of expanding food choices, introducing them to new foods. Love that.

I understand the thoughts behind the calorie limits, and appreciate the work that went into figuring where to draw the line. I get the reason behind limiting sodium intake. Really. I do.

But my inner “mother bear” comes out when you start messing with my children…even more so when it comes to something I’m very sensitive about, such as their diets. With George’s diagnosis of OTC, we work closely with a dietician at Mayo. Through the last few years, we’ve been made VERY aware of the importance of proper nutrition for growing bodies.

Now, I know that the changes made to the school lunch program must have followed a dietician’s suggestion…perhaps even a team of dieticians. But it still doesn’t hit all the marks that I’m looking for in a good, well-balanced meal. And not necessarily for every child, but for mine…which is who I am fighting for (and I know I’m not alone).

I’m not complaining to my school administration. I’m not complaining to my school board. I know they are doing the best they can with what they have been given. I am writing those that have the power to make a change, and I’m using the tools that are available to me (social media, for one) to encourage others to do the same.

This isn’t a witch hunt, I’m not looking for someone to blame. I don’t care who signed the law, I don’t care which party they are from. I want to know who I can talk to that will work with me to make changes…that’s all I need.

We have passed the eras where laws are made and citizens no longer question them and just follow along blindly, assuming that everything was made in good-faith effort to do the best for those involved. (Did that time ever truly exist?) We are in an age where we are expected to stand up for what’s right and ask to make changes when things aren’t working…and this isn’t working for me and my family.

Scooter may be bigger than most 8-year-olds, but he’s still a little boy who needs his mama to stand up for him…and his future. (Oh, and this is an OLD pic of the two of them. About 2 years or so.)

Scooter and his older/younger brothers. He’s the one in the football gear.

I won’t spread rumors, I will try not to state anything without doing my research. I won’t place blame. I will just work towards a change. But I have to be vocal about what I find, or questions I may have…I have to use the tools that are at my disposal to get my message out to those who need to hear, and to those that can join in the movement.

I won’t stand by and watch an injustice when there’s something I can do…I’d say I wasn’t raised that way, but that’s not completely true. Let’s just say that I’m not raising my children that way.

Want to contact someone who can make a change? Here’s a good place to start:

Undersecretary of Food & Nutrition Services
Kevin Concannon
1400 Independence Ave, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20250

Secretary of Agriculture
Tom Vilsack
1400 Independence Ave, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20250

12 thoughts on “Why the fuss about lunch?

    • I like this idea too! Except when you run you have to conform to your donors and your party. I think you would be a great lobbyist, advocate, policy-wonk… The people who write our laws, influence our officials, and who have the most real power….

  1. Thanks Val for all the great info. I too love the new choices for fruits and veggies, however I have a five year old with higher calorie needs then most. (He eats as much or more than his very active 8 year old brother.) A one size fits all approach really doesn’t cut it when it comes to school lunch. This “momma bear” is also sending correspondence on the issue. Thanks again.

  2. I love this!! I feel very much the same way- don’t blame, appreciate the increase in fresh and whole grains etc. I will say though from my perspective that I feel the calorie limits are good for the average child and that is what the meal programs need to plan for.We are so accustomed to eating excessive portions that I am not so sure we know what appropriate portions are. I feel that if my child should need extra calories or food intake that it is my responsibility as a parent to send a snack or supply wholesome snacks at home in addition to well balanced meals at home and school. Thank you for your insight! You do great work!

  3. I couldn’t agree more. I have a very picky girl who doesn’t like to try new things. So making them take some new friuts and veggies does make me happy. But on the other hand, she likes her meat and come home very hungry. It’s hard to tell her to eat a small snack because dinner is in an hour. I thank you for the addresses..

  4. Val, I agree. I think its a tough spot for bureaucratic school systems to be in. They are required in so many places to provide lunches and yet there are not adequate budgets to give anything but wide-scale options. In the past several months, I’ve been working closely with my diet as well. Where I first saw the change was limiting of my favorite cold drinks – I have a Coke or so a day rather than one whenever I feel like it. Second change that made a real difference was adding more protein to my diet, particularly early in the day. Hope they get this worked out thanks to your hardwork & the hardwork of other moms & citizens who want better for their kids and others.

  5. Thanks Val! And, yes, this is not a local problem, and when I complain about the lunches I am not complaining about our cooks, our schools, or even our school district. They are all in a tough spot and are just doing their job. What is interesting is I watched the menus improve last year, fewer hot dogs, more real food. And then, with these changes I see a lot of heat and serve breaded nuggets, chicken sandwiches and even a meal where the ENTREE is cheesy breadsticks. My big kids are lucky. They love fruits and veggies and can fill up at the salad/fruit bar. The elementary kids don’t have those options. And, what if my big kids were not fans of salad?

  6. I just checked out our school lunch menu in the paper and was surprised to find they are still serving meat for breakfast. there must be a period to adjust the menues or something, i know the food service director is very strict about following usda guide lines. i live in a farm area with a lot of migrant workers and most of there kids are free lunch and need the extra food. all kids here are given a free breakfast regardless of income.

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