School lunch: A difference in latitude

Today is inauguration day, and it’s also a day off for our school. It also happens to be the coldest day of the year for our area – well, at least so far.

How cold is it? Judge for yourself:

So, does this qualify as cold where you're from?

So, does this qualify as cold where you’re from?

The extreme temps have me keeping the boys inside today, although we may have to go out for a 4-H meeting later. While thinking about the cold temperatures, I started thinking about ways to warm the boys up, and keep them fueled up for the day.

That’s when another glaring problem with our new school lunch guidelines hit me. The USDA and other supporters of the new restrictions and calorie limits claim that we all shouldn’t eat like high school athletes, but they forget about regional differences as well.

It’s been well-documented and scientifically proven that we use more calories in the winter than in the summer. We usually make up for it by being more sentient and eating more during cold snaps, which leads to winter weight gains.

But what about those that continue their same caloric burn, but don’t receive the extra caloric intake? Like our students.

Imagine if you will, putting on snow pants, jacket, heavy winter boots, scarf, hat and gloves, then going out and lugging around all that extra weight while playing outside. Can you imagine that you wouldn’t burn more calories? That you wouldn’t need more to keep you going throughout the day?

Scooter posing outside a few winters ago, minus his usual snow pants. Must have been a warm day out!

Scooter posing outside a few winters ago, minus his usual snow pants. Must have been a warm day out!

Yet there are no regional differences set into the new guidelines. A child in 70-degree Florida is allowed the same number of calories as a child in the frozen-tundra of North Dakota. Just another glaring hole in the one-size-doesn’t-fit-all mess that makes up our school lunch program.

Snacks? Sure. I send snacks, which are usually consumed prior to the bus even stopping at the school.

Pack a lunch? Sure. I could pack a lunch without problems for my boys. But when it’s cold outside, I prefer they have a warm meal, and so do they. Also, my boys happen to really like our school lunches, it’s just the amount that gets to them. (Or lack of.)

I long for common sense, about as strongly as I long for the warmer days of spring. Fortunately, I’m guaranteed that spring will eventually arrive…I’m not guaranteed that common sense will ever prevail in our lunch program again.

But I won’t stop pushing for it.

1 thought on “School lunch: A difference in latitude

  1. Couldn’t agree with you more, Val. My three teens come home and eat like starving wolves every afternoon. The amount of food they give for active teenagers is ridiculous and I’m sure it’s the same for the younger kids. It’s especially low for those who are in sports. I understand that there are a lot of overweight kids in the big cities who sit around doing nothing when they’re home. That isn’t the case for most of the kids in Ellendale. In fact, the number of overweight kids in the Ellendale school is really low. I was noticing that at the concerts and marveling how few kids were even chubby. So why should our kids, who walk all over town or do chores on the farm, go hungry because some kid in NY is overweight? Common sense, as I’ve read somewhere, is so rare these days that it should be considered a super power.

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