Comparing menus

I’ve been pretty vocal about my disdain for the changes made to the school lunch menu. On that note, let’s take a look at a sample menu:

  • Fresh apple
  • Spanish omelet
  • Potatoes
  • Pkg. Cream of Wheat
  • 3 slices bread
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • 2 pkg jelly
  • 2 margarine
  • Kosher beverage

Sounds good, right??? That’s what I thought. Unfortunately, that’s the menu being served to our prisoners in federal prisons. That’s right. Prisoners are being fed better than our
own children.

Let’s take a look at another menu:

  • Mango, ginger and curry soup
  • Mediterranean pasta salad
  • Tarragon farmers salad
  • All natural turkey BLTs with basil mayo
  • Grilled Portobello Ciabatta with roasted red pepper spread
  • Ginger glazed carrots
  • Red, white and blue chips
  • Farmer’s market melon
  • Organic milk, greens station, all natural deli bar, whole fruit always available

Sounds pretty extravagant, right? That’s the menu being served at the private school where the Obama’s children attend. I understand that not all schools are on a level playing field when it comes to school lunches, but it the new mandates are so great, why aren’t all schools expected to follow them? Especially this school.

Here’s the last sample menu:

  • Hamburger
  • Baked beans
  • Fruit
  • Milk

Doesn’t sound like much, does it? A little lacking in a few areas? That’s the menu that is offered to my children.

And we wonder why kids that have the option to leave campus are now eating at the local gas station and bakery shops. I’m sure the local businesses are enjoying the boom, but it would be nice if the children that would like to eat at school actually felt like the food was able to meet their needs. And as a parent, I agree.

I enjoy the fact that our schools are now expected to serve fresh fruits and vegetables, but to require it is ridiculous. Where are we supposed to get fresh fruit from in December? What will it take to ship it in? What will the shelf life be for it? What do we do if no one eats school lunch that week?

Yes, changes may be needed to our school lunch menu, but those changes need to be made at the local level, with no ties to federal funding.

So many have stated that if you aren’t happy, if your children aren’t fed, just pack a lunch. There’s nothing you can do once it’s implemented.


We can fight for those that cannot fight for themselves. And we can work for a sensible change that can actually help our children throughout the day, not set them up for failure.

Soon our school won’t be needing many of these, as the number of students eating at school drops.

Due to the widespread claim that these new, improved lunches are the best thing since sliced bread (which, by the way, is no longer offered as an alternative to the main entree at our school) (oh, and pun intended), and that we need to use these guidelines to curb the rampant obesity in our schools, my 10-year-old is no longer eating much of anything. He was never a big eater, but always ate what was needed through the day. He’s now concerned that he’s overweight, because “the news says that most kids weigh too much.”

Thank you, main stream media, for giving my child a food complex that didn’t exist before…and thank you, current administration, for taking children that are impressionable and at-risk for food disorders for making it impossible for kids not to stress over what they eat.

My solution: Let food decisions be made at the local level, where the school lunch experts know their students, know the climate and know what will work. Educate about nutrition, teach proper eating habits, but please, do not tell our children that they are fat. (Oh, and most children over the age of 7 know what the word obese means…that doesn’t make it better.) If you want to see real change, start at home. Make an effort to reach those parents that don’t understand, or just don’t care what they are feeding their children.

School lunch is not to blame for the childhood obesity issue, and putting our children on a diet during the school lunch day will not solve the problem. If anything, it has encouraged binge eating and unhealthy food choices after school.

It’s time to start using common sense…but unfortunately, it’s not so common.

16 thoughts on “Comparing menus

  1. Great post! We have 7 schools in our district. The menus are published weekly in the school paper. Out of all the schools, my daughter’s school is the ONLY one implementing these guidelines which infuriates me even more. We decided At the beginning of the school year that she could pick one day each week to take her lunch. This was befOre we were made aware of the changes. Now, we are allowing her to take it more often.

    • If schools comply earlier to the new mandates, they receive a “bonus” of 6 cents per meal. It’s the reason some schools are making sweeping changes immediately and some aren’t.

      • I believe that the schools are required to follow the new rules effective July 1, 2012 whether they are applying for the 6 Cents or not. If they are not complying they could lose all of their federal funding.

  2. I totally agree with your post, especially the last paragraph! This new lunch plan is only going to cause binge eating after school, and, I’m pretty sure what the kids will be eating won’t be the most nutritious food. It will more than likely be anything quick and easy they can get their hands on. I also feel sorry for the kids who only get a substantial meal at school and are now losing that too.

  3. I love how french fries, chicken nuggets, chicken burgers, popcorn chicken, corn dog and hot dogs are still on the menu at my school. I know I am a fat person, my child is also overweight, but I was under the impression the above mentioned items were not exactly a healthy choice. Maybe thats our problem at home. None of these things are ever offered at our kitchen table. I also was told by my 2nd grader that they only have phy ed two days a week. I also thought excercise was important. No wonder I have struggled with my weight all my life. I have the wrong information.

  4. Some very good points made. I’m afraid there are too many parents that are ignorant about nutrition and how to eat right. As I have said many times, a nutrition class was one of our classes in public school. We had plenty of good and healthy food to eat, we didn’t have vending machines in school, and we went outside and played until dark, running around, climbing trees and fences. We didn’t have television or electronic games. And obesity was pretty rare. For one thing, the human body isn’t made to sit at a computer or game boy 20 hours a day. It’s made to do physical things.

  5. it is NOT what they are eating at school that is making these children heavy!!!!! take a look at your meals at home!!!!! and do some activities outside ….. take responsibility for your own lives… we did not need the government once again stepping in where they are not needed…

  6. Great post here Val.. I know for me moving here from California, the land of plentiful fruits and vegetables, it’s been a challenge as an individual to acquire and keep fresh veggies on hand.. So for the federal government to mandate that schools must source, keep, and serve fresh veggies and fruits year around to me is absolutely ridiculous. I understand their motive but I agree that nutrition for children comes from how they are raised. Just because nutritious food is served doesn’t mean children are going to eat it! What schools CAN do for children is implement learning about healthy eating and exercise. Last time I checked, recess was getting cut shorter and shorter which makes no sense to me. At recess it gives children time to run around, play, and burn off some of those extra calories some children are getting. Technology in our society has benefited us so much but in the same way, it’s caused our society to be lazy. There is no one cure fix all for this situation we are currently in. It will take a variety of different things to change.

    I too totally agree that school lunches should be indicative of the local area. I’ve found that here in ND people do not eat the same as people in California. Their tastes are much different and for people who enjoy eating how they always have, accepting change is hard. Not everyone is willing to branch out when it comes to food and try new or different things. The tried and true staples stick and that’s what they like. That has probably been the hardest thing for me to adapt to here since moving.. But that is okay, I understand this is how you were raised and this is how you eat. Everyone should be entitled to their own choices when it comes to food. But forcing school menus to be consistent across the board… That puts a whole other wrench into the equation. 😉

  7. I agree that schools should be able to serve according to the area they are in. City kids eat different then country kids. City kids usually eat less and are more picky, country kids are used to eating what is put on the table, there is not time to make different meals for picky eaters. When my kids were small they had tomtake one “no thank you” bite, is they did not like itnwe could wait a few weeks and try again, if they really did not like the food theynwere allowed to have cereal and fruit, they soon found it was more fun to eat with the family did.

  8. Our kiddos all take lunch to school with them. They eat one day a week so they can make their own choices. Three make good choices and one does not! We try to impart about healthy eating at home and not depend on school to do so, but I would like it if food was better at school…

  9. I had a chance to talk to my sister this weekend who is a middle school cafeteria lunch lady….her first comment when I asked about the changes was – “Are you sure you want me to go there?” An interesting point that she made was that in years past her team has struggled to utilize the large amounts of government subsidies (like “government cheese” and eggs) they receive in healthy ways. With the new guidelines, she said many of the things the government provides are either not usable in ways that are acceptable as healthy or will go bad before they can be fully used. (She said they’ll probably have to throw out 1/3 of their first cheese shipment, because they won’t be able to use it all in a timely manner.) She gave the example that on taco day they used to set out ingredients for a taco bar that allowed the kids to make their own tacos and there was very little waste….now the kids are given 2 taco shells, 1 1/2 oz. taco meat, 1/2 oz. cheese, and 1 1/2 cups of chopped tomato and lettuce…..who puts a cup and a half of tomato and lettuce on 2 tacos? She says they are all cringing at the amount of food the kids are throwing away.

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  11. I agree the school menu is VERY bad BUT the picture below is of the prison food you say is better… I don’t think it is anything I would want my kid eating! Definitely not better. All the meals look that way. Just saying…

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