After picking up my boys from preschool the other day, we had this conversation:
Vaughn: Mommy can we buy those cookies that have the white stuff in the middle?
Me: What are you talking about?
Miles: We had these cookies at school today…
Me: I’m sorry, what? Why did you have cookies? Was it someone’s birthday?
Vaughn: Um no, but we had the most delicious cookies with…
Miles: Chocolate and um, white stuff.
And that’s how my kids had their first Oreo cookie. At school.
My husband will tell you I’m a food Nazi and I won’t deny it. I’m also a realist. I know the boys are going to eat junk like Oreos and McDonald’s (because my husband takes them there on “boys day”) but I also think whatever they get at school should not be counter productive to what I’m feeding them at home! Isn’t this the First Lady’s pet project? Is it “Let’s Move” and then eat crap? I thought we just passed unprecedented laws with revised standards that haven’t be touched in 15 years!? Clearly I needed to open an investigation…so I went right to the source and emailed moms with kids of varying ages. Here’s some of the responses:
The unhealthiest items I’ve seen on the school lunch menu would have to be a toss up between mozzarella sticks, corn dog nuggets or even better the nacho chip lunch with turkey chili and cheese sauce. Shouldn’t these delicacies be saved for a night after barhopping?
Yes, absolutely. Speaking of, when are we doing that? Oh wait, back to healthy eating…
Oh, and just so you know; good ‘ol footlong hotdog is still on the middle school menu! I remember those, so gross! And why footlong? It’s kinda like super sizing at mcdonalds, right?
Perfect analogy my wise friend! Let the super sizing start early so they get used to it, right?
In kindergarten, kids in [my town] don’t have the opportunity to buy lunch. So whenever [my daughter] stays, I make one for her. She can buy milk and even that depresses me because they have a lot of “flavored” milks = lots of sugar, I’m sure.
Because we should definitely be offering milk varieties. Who wants boring old, protein and nutrient rich fat-free milk? Kids really should have strawberry or chocolate, right?
Maybe I’m naive but I really thought school lunches had improved much beyond this. In fact, when I started doing some
research Googling for this post, I came across sample menus from the Let’s Move! campaign. I’ll randomly pick Wednesday (because it’s hump day!) from that menu:
And now, Wednesday at a local school from one town over from where I live:
Whoever eats the Fisherman’s Platter or Corn Dog is lucky not to have diarrhea for a week! Why so many choices? I mean really, what kid is going to choose the “yogurt plate?” And, in case you’re thinking I hand-picked this “lucky plate day,” I did not. The horrible food choices continue with French toast and sausage (for lunch!?) or BBQ Beef on a roll with tater tots. The only constant on the menu? The yogurt plate. Every.damn.day.
It doesn’t mention a drink but I’m sure there’s plenty of options in the Coke machine.
What is happening here? The real issue I have is that politicians pretend to be interested in healthy food choices at school and the childhood obesity epidemic in general. It seems we’re raising generations of fat kids with horrible eating habits who play video games and Tweet all day long. So let’s serve footlong hot dogs, corn dogs and nachos to them and then complain about how fat and unhealthy they are.
Now, give a kid a food allergy.
Recently I’ve had to deal with this issue and let me tell you, there’s something so wrong with the system. My son Vaughn has a very mild raw egg protein allergy. If he eats eggs, he pukes and then he’s fine. The allergist strongly recommended he have an EpiPen at school just in case. Once this was declared, the flood gates of insanity opened! I had to deal with more back and forth paper work from the state, the school administration and the allergist then I could possibly explain in one blog post. The lack of common sense drove me to drink. Literally.
So, what’s all the fuss about allergies? Kids could die. That’s pretty friggin serious, right? How about obese kids? Can they die? You bet your sweet ass and they’re 2-3 times more likely to die young or of a chronic (read preventable) disease then Vaughn is from eating an egg.* So, why all the holy hell about my son and the EpiPen and zero about the crap we’re feeding kids to basically make them sick?
“Many parents are working hard every day to make sure they provide healthy, balanced meals and snacks to their kids. Unfortunately, we don’t always have control over the snacks our kids have access to when they’re away from home. That’s why, as a mom myself, I am so excited that schools will now be offering healthier choices to students and reinforcing the work we do at home to help our kids stay healthy.” – First Lady, Michelle Obama
So….who’s going to tell her?
How are your kids school lunches?
If you don’t have kids, how are your lunches at work? at home?
What do you think about the Let’s Move! program?
I don’t have kids yet but it is depressing to know that is what they serve children. I can remember when I was in high school and they served stuff like that or you could get something like pizza. Not really healthy options.
My lunches at work, well I typically brought lunch to reduce down on costs but there was always unhealthy food being ordered in like pizza, wings, etc. Tempting stuff and good to have sometimes but typically I try to be healthier during the week.
Yes, my high school meals left a lot to be desired in the way of nutrition but we also didn’t have a childhood obesity epidemic on our hands! I also lived though some horrible take-out when I had a corporate job and really, everything in moderation is the way to go. Thanks Sara!
Great post! My son is at preschool and doesn’t have the option to buy lunch at school but will next year when he enters kindergarten. And you can bet that I will be making him lunch every day. The upcoming generations are so reliant on TV, video games, tweeting, FB etc that being a kid isn’t being a kid anymore. I remember riding my bike everywhere when I was a kid, playing sports. I can only hope that being active myself helps to influence my sons to be active and oh by the way…..I feel like there is no one to blame except the parents for the reliance on technology. Turn the TV OFF. UNPLUG the video games and put them away, or don’t buy them at all! I remember taking care of a patient in the hospital that had just turned 3. He was almost 70lbs, and you know what he was doing when I walked into the room?? Playing Xbox, the kid didn’t take his eyes of the TV for a second and when I stood in front of him to talk to him, he moved to look around me and wouldn’t say a word. And you know what the parents did???? NOTHING. You know what the parents said? “Oh, he loves his video games.” And then later in the day proceeded to bring him McDonalds for lunch. Sad, so so very sad. We have a LONG way to go because unfortunately this problem isn’t necessarily in the schools, it’s at home.
This is exactly what I mean!! Parents shouldn’t tolerate the crap being fed to kids at school. What if every single kid brought lunch from home? I bet they would change that menu in NO TIME! I completely agree that it starts at home, but when you’re doing everything “right” at home, the problem starts when they go to school – which is maddening!!!!
Thanks Sue. I can’t imagine how many times you’ve seen that scenario at work.
My girls are still in pre-school, but I know I will be dealing with this next year when she is in Kindergarten. I, for one, will try to send her in with luck, because I know what she likes and that menu above sounded gross to me (to be honest), but I will share I was truly a pocky eater and definitely wouldn’t have eaten anything on that menu in kindergarten or grade school for that matter. But that is just me. However, you totally make a valid point and would love to know what Michelle Obama would say to that sample menu now for sure.
I’ll be in the same boat with you as far as packing my kids lunch. The thing is, we shouldn’t have to! There should be the same options available to them that we’re packing. It’s crazy to me!
i also am disappointed when my 3 year old twins come home from preschool, having just had a snack of cookies and juice! we were never asked about what they could/couldn’t have or really told that they get consistent unhealthy snacks. i also make sure they eat really healthy at home and would be okay with the occasional treat for celebrations, but it seems almost a recurring thing at their school. really frustrating since they would be just as happy with fruit and water! i can only imagine it’s going to get harder and harder as they get older.
I still haven’t gotten to the bottom of the Oreo thing, but I specifically asked about what kind of snacks they give at their preschool before I signed them up, and Oreo’s were definitely not on the list! I know they usually have semi-decent snacks but juice and cookies is just ridiculous when, like you said, they would eat fruit and drink water.
Thanks for your comment!
We are having a very similar battle with our daycare right now over what they considerable acceptable snacks. Every day they’re giving the kids processed junk like graham crackers, Cheez-its, vanilla wafers, and, yesterday, Fruit Loops! I’m pretty sure these have little to no nutritional value. Again, I’m a realist, too. I understand that they need easy options, but would it kill them to cut bananas in half, dole out fruit or yogurt cups, or even make a healthier ‘trail mix’ with raisins and cheerios every now and then? It’s infuriating!!
You are preaching to the choir my friend! Maybe we need to start our own school like Christina on Parenthood!? Only ours will revolve around nutrition and athletics!! My kids get animal crackers, waffles with syrup and I believe they think their healthiest option is NutriGrain bars for snack. Yep. I guess I should be happy they’re not serving Fruit Loops. Ugh.
I have an issue with school lunches anyway because they dictate how many calories kids can have, to combat obesity. The problem with this is that one size doesn’t fit all. My kid who works out for hours most days with her soccer needs more than 850 calories (which I believe is the allotment right now…I’d have to double check) at lunch. She brings her own lunch right now, which is a healthier choice anyway…forget about the calories. But I don’t need anyone telling me how many calories to feed my kids, or what healthy choices are, which comes home from the school all the time too (kids should be picking lowfat and nonfat choices). Hello, has anyone ever seen my kids? They are string beans and need all the fat (good fat) that they can get. Thank you but that advice goes in one ear and out the other.
That is absurd!!! And what, exactly, is making up those calories? I’m sure they’re not the most nutritious choices but instead “empty” calories that may only make them hungrier. So annoying.
Unfortunately, it comes down to the $$.
Crap is cheaper and easier to transport than good food.
My daughter goes to school in a district where a majority of the kids are on free/reduced lunch and because of this, every student in school is provided free breakfast in the classroom.
At breakfast, there is nary a fresh fruit to be found. Mostly sugared cereals.
At lunch, the kids MUST take a fruit or veggie. All bets are off if they actually eat it.
I agree – the food needs to be healthier. Chances are that breakfast and lunch are the only meals these kids at this school are getting.
The kids are learning much, much more about nutrition and healthy choices than I ever did in school. I had to learn those lessons the hard way.
It would be great to see continuity about what they learn and what they see in the lunchroom.
Unfortunately you are absolutely right about $$. Until the majority of people in this country start eating healthier we’re going to have dollar menus of tacos and fried fish instead of chicken, grilled fish, fruit or nuts! And yes, wouldn’t it make sense that if they’re learning about good nutrition in the classroom to have that play out in the lunch room?? This is what makes me so angry – none of it makes sense. Well, I guess it makes financial sense. Thanks Karen!
Sadly this is exactly correct. Anyone remember the Jamie Oliver ‘Food Revolution’? He wanted fresh food, actually cooked food … but the sad reality is that the processed crap they feed our kids is incredibly cheap.
And you know what, unless we are willing to significantly increase the funding to schools (spoiler: people already begrudge what they pay, and town meetings get brutal at the suggestion of increases) … we won’t see a change.
People also fail the common sense test for this stuff – there should be no way that processed and pre-batter and cooked chicken should be cheaper than raw whole chicken. It shows the impact of the food processing industry. Worse yet, all of the stuff is loaded with processed corn bits and HFCS … because of the corn lobby.
My kids in high school at least have a solid salad bar … but ultimately what we choose is that we can control 2 meals per day, so if they choose less healthy at lunch it is not the end of the world. They both have healthy core eating habits, which is the goal in the end.
I agree 100%! Well said Michael.
I agree that school lunches are not the best health wise – but I would love to hear your take on the epidemic of artificial coloring. Due to my son’s autism, he is not supposed to have foods with dye in them (aka red 40 etc). The amount of food in our society that contains artificial coloring is shocking – and includes everything from gum to medicine. I can’t even find a Tylenol product to give him that is dye free. I wonder why Michelle Obama isn’t combatting that issue as I believe it is a major factor in the fight for healthier children. My son learned to read food labels at the age of seven to avoid colors. As I know you know – these dyes are unnecessary as almost all colors can be made naturally. It’s really hard to understand why the goverment doesn’t regulate the usage of dye or outlaw it all together …
I have to agree with one of your readers above, though. It all comes down to cost. When we lived in Virginia where there was a lot of money – the school lunch program was absolutely better. And by the way – I love your blog – it keeps getting better and better – and it’s scary how big M and V have gotten since last time I saw them. Time flies!
Thank you Laurie! You are absolutely right and unfortunately all of this comes down to $$. But, as you know, we live in a pretty wealthy area – I mean, what is Tolland or South Windsor’s excuse? It’s not lack of money. And the artificial dye is out of control. Like you said, it makes zero sense to have it in medicine. Kids don’t need bright colors! It’s all what they get used to and unfortunately, that’s what society has created. Senseless!
Well I taught first grade for 20 years and of course had lunch duty. There were about 25% of the children bringing their own lunch daily. There were 50% on free/reduced lunch therefore 25% bought the lunch. The lunches changed over the years,in the end they had 3 choices for their main meal. This was too much for first graders who had to order in the morning and forgot what they ordered by noon…or saw the lunches and decide to change their mind to get something better!! The major thing is that hardly any child ate the whole lunch. A few bites here and there of the meal, fruit,veggies or dessert. The favorite day was pizza. The children could bring money and buy an ice cream which many did but that didn’t get totally eaten either. The children were more interested in chatting and getting ready to go to recess than eating.then there is the “trading” lunch item by the children who brought their lunch,which I had then trade back if I caught them….but many didn’t want the lunch the brought and would throw the whole lunch out so Mom or dad wouldn’t know. That was the one that we had the most discussion about,I wanted them to bring it back home but I know it was a battle I lost more often than won. The children would then pretend they would bring it home and sneak it in the trash barrel. There were two of us watching 100+ children daily so we would pick our battles???which in the cafeteria was not usually having to do with food!
Jane, when my kids grew up, they told me that when I packed a nice lunch for them, first they threw away the fruit, then ate the dessert and if they had time, ate a little bit of the sandwich I had packed. I never knew.
We got a call from my stepson’s teacher when he was in third grade saying he was doing this exact same thing. Guess who was making his lunches at the time?? ME!
Oh Janey I can’t imagine having that battle, on top of everything else, as a teacher! Mostly these days the “no trading” rule is strictly enforced because there’s so many kids with allergies!! I know that a lot of kids throw out their lunches or don’t eat much but, it seems like they might be better off!! I remember the days at St. Ed’s when we HAD to bring our lunch because there was NO cafeteria. I also remember, when we finally got a small one (in the gym) we would eat microwave french fries from a box!!! How disgusting is that? Thanks so much for commenting! After 20 years, you have seen it all!!
Great post! I am sorry to say that school lunches have not evolved they way they should. The way my son’s school handles the healthy part is that when you buy you must pick a veggie item. This is stupid first, because the main meal is still junk and second, most kids won’t eat so they will throw it away. I watched The Biggest Loser one year in which they addressed the school lunch issue because they had kids on the show. What they found out was that school lunches are a “for profit” type of thing so they won’t change it for risk of losing their profits. Very sad.
It always comes down to money which is really the sad part. Food prices in this country are so backward – dollar menus for crap and Whole Foods charges more then my mortgage! And yes, forcing a veggie choice on a kid is just stupid.
You have hit on so many great points, Allie. I’m having the same issues at daycare. I work my butt off to find healthy recipes for my family (I hate to cook, but feel obligated as a mother/wife), and my kid comes home asking me for a happy meal and sunny d. I don’t even know what a sunny d was, until I stepped back into my timemachine called 1992! Feed my kid what I pack and nothing else please. She’s two!
I am fond of the Let’s move program, but with all the budget cuts our schools are facing, I feel like the schools can’t afford to go healthy and buy bulk at the same time. As parents, we should step up and make sure that the meals our children bring to school are healthy, well balanced, and that there aren’t options for children that bring packed meals to purchase the alternative of unhealthy lunches.
Thanks for your post!
Thank you Erin! It sounds like you get it and are dealing with some of the same issues. Sunny D? Really? I think they give that to prisoners. I would advocate for ending cafeterias all together and make kids bring lunch from home but, unfortunately, not everyone can afford to eat in this country either and the food some of these kids get at school is all they eat all day. Something clearly needs to change and Let’s Move! is a good start for sure, but there’s so much more to be done.
OK, here I go again….my first thought was, “Oh, for crying out loud, Allie, let the kid have a damn Oreo, it’s not going to kill him.” but then I kept reading and once again, you are 100% right. It’s the damn CHEMICALS in all that processed food that is so bad for them, and frightening to think about being fed to our children (in my case, grandchildren) Why can’t the schools feed the kids REAL food? Food without high fructose corn syrup and sodium nitrate to name a couple. Did you ever see the programs on TV by Jamie Oliver who proved that schools lunches made from REAL food is affordable, doable and the kids eat it? And it makes me so angry that organic food is so expensive and crap food is so cheap. But…that’s another subject. All you young ladies here, with kids in school, who are trying to bring them up healthy and fit…GOOD JOB!!
SO TRUE!!! Yes, I loved those shows with Jamie Oliver. It absolutely CAN be done it’s just that no one but him wanted to do it. Believe me, my kids eat their share of crap and I too indulge, but I should be able to send them to school without having to worry about them eating a friggin corn dog! As for food prices, as long as McDonald’s has a dollar menu and Whole Foods costs a fortune, nothing is going to change. Don’t worry though, I’ll keep fighting!
Great post Allie! My mother has worked in the school system for years as a speech pathologist and she has never mentioned the lunches but she has mentioned dealing with federal mandates before. Basically schools often try to do the minimum to comply with federal laws because of cost, time and personnel restraints. Hence, the yogurt plate. They probably are only required to offer one healthy meal.
Growing up my mother made my brother and I three meals a day until we left for college. I guess you could say she coddled us, but really I think she instilled healthy eating habits in both of us as a result. These days I am one if the only people at work who brings their lunch on a regular basis and when I don’t, I get soup or salad. The crap people buy for lunch and the amount of calories they consume is ridiculous. I constantly pester my husband about what he is eating for lunch because I worry about his sodium intake.
If I were you, I’d be pissed. It’s not ok to offer those meals that completely lack any nutritional value.
It’s such an uphill battle and it’s all about money. My mom used to make me and my brother three meals as day as well and yes, we were definitely coddled. But that’s an issue too. My mom stayed at home, and not like I stay at home – she cleaned and cooked and did laundry but, she didn’t have two other part time jobs. I don’t want to HAVE to make my kids lunch everyday because there’s only crap to be had at school! It’s ridiculous.
Corn dog on a stick? Blech!
You know I don’t have kids and I have no idea what kind of parent I will be. I think I’ll probably be okay with an oreo here or there. I won’t be okay with daily choices like that menu you show. Whoa!
Agreed. Oreos are fine every once and a while as a treat. My kids eat a dessert (one) every.single.day. The issue is that they don’t need a treat at school. Right now they’re only there for 3 hours, 3 times a week! It’s crazy. Hopefully things will change by the time you become a mom 🙂
I can’t answer that because I don’t have any kids… no, wait. I do have kids? DAMMIT! Now I have to share the cereal…
My mother-in-law keeps taking the kids to fast food joints even though we EXPRESSLY tell her not to. Soooo frustrating.
That’s a whole other blog post!! Most of my family knows not to take my kids to fast food unless they never want to see them again. My husband just does it to defy me 🙂
This is one of my greatest pet peeves as a parent, believe me. Wait until they are in sports and you get the moms who insist on bringing snacks for post game. First off, they are playing maybe 40 minutes of a full hour’s game, on average. No need for snack. Then, the snacks that parents bring are total and complete junk. I try every season with every coach to stop the snack thing, but there’s always a parent who pushes back. Plan B is to suggest only fruit and water for a snack. It helps a bit, but then someone always sneaks in granola bars or some other sort of crap. Oh, and it’s usually right around lunchtime, so the kids appetites are then blown for a healthier lunch. It happens at the school parties, too. Drives me insane, if you can’t tell! As to school lunches, well, I pack my kids 100% of the time and they are fine with that.
I feel for you – that is ridiculous. I know it’s coming my way too which is why I’m already so frustrated. I want my kids to continue to not know what a Dorito is. There’s no need!! I know I will be “that parent” but I don’t care. I also know I will be packing my kids lunch from when they start Kindergarten until college but I shouldn’t have to. So frustrating.
Testing 1,2,3. Testing!
I think I second your husband. To me there is no “bad” food. Because everything can be bad, if not eaten in moderation.
I agree to an extent about not labeling food “bad” or “good” and I’m on the moderation band wagon. The problem is I’m not seeing the moderation – especially when we’re talking about kids and the obesity epidemic that we clearly have.
Here’s my strategy: I give my kids the organic/non GMO versions of Cocoa Krispies, Lucky Charms (and every other cereal under the sun), homemade fruit roll ups and even Oreos. When they finally get to taste the real thing, so far they’ve tasted the chemically sugary grossness that they did not like them in the least. My yogurt plate eating kid also can’t read the menu yet, so I tell her her choices and oops leave some out.
Good tactics!…especially reading the menu choices to her 🙂
Well, I can’t speak for anyplace other than our district but here is how our district tried to “health” up the school lunches.
They took the portions and condensed them. Fine for the Kindergarten and 1st grade kids but ALL kids at the elementary get the exact same size – basically it is not enough for a 6th grade boy to eat for lunch. I think they mistook healthier choices for small servings (they weren’t large servings to begin with).
Sounds like you and Michelle from Dish of Daily Life have the same issue! I guess that was the quickest way to be in compliance. Horrible.
I LOVE this post! Such an important topic! Absolutely love how you ended this piece; I wish the First Lady read this post. I am dreading what my daughter will have offered to her when she enters school next year! Thanks for getting the word out about the problem with our supposed “healthy lunch programs”!
Thank you Chrissie! I know you totally GET IT! Obviously we need to come up with a plan asap!
My little dude is not at daycare or school yet, so I haven’t had to deal with this, but I am certain a lot of angst is in my future. I’ve seen menus like the one you posted at my niece & nephew’s place and it horrifies me that our schools think it’s okay to feed children total fried, nutritionally void crap. It’s definitely down to the money, I’m sure.
What makes me saddest is that if you’re fighting an obesity epidemic in *children*, you can teach and talk and explain until you’re blue in the face about how exercising more and eating healthy helps keep you well, but if those kids you’re talking to then go to the cafeteria and are offered a CORN DOG ON A STICK, they are never going to learn the healthy lifestyle lesson. Kids, especially young kids, are not sophisticated enough to rationalize, “My teacher is right, eating healthy, nutritious foods is the way to go and the only reason I’m offered this crap is because of the bureaucracy and cost involved with instituting a well-meaning government mandate. I’ll have the yogurt plate.”
(Sorry for leaving an essay-length comment!!)
Exactly! I could not have said it better myself.
My kids keep asking when they can buy lunch at school. I’m like, ummmmm, never! I work so hard to keep their lunches healthy and interesting. It would be so easy (and probably cheaper) to sign them up for school lunches but I believe I need to influence their food choices as much as I can when they are little. The hardest part is keeping them from getting bored with what I pack!
I face the same thing now with the boredom. Imagine how I felt when I found out I would be packing them lunch for the rest of their educated lives!? Thanks for commenting Joy 🙂
I’ll tell her! (I’m totally friends with her)
We don’t have this yet but I got a copy of a sample kindergarten menu for next year and it looks exactly like the menus of my youth. Pizza on Fridays. Tacos and chicken fries and more. And this is Northampton – the greenest city ever. I’m sure the programs are somewhere out there, but it’s not here.
Thank you for personally letting her know. Maybe you can do a photo shoot while you’re there?
Northampton should be ashamed of itself! Of all the places!?
Hahaha I love this. I actually have a friend that started a business in Texas that caters for schools. The parents can buy the school lunch or pay extra for healthy, all-natural choices. I think it’s kind of cool!
That is AWESOME! Who is this genius friend and does she want to start a franchise?
please, please, please don’t get me started on the lack of common sense and insanity in the public school system. not this week. if i could home school, i would seriously consider it. on another note, my kids have been given fruit loops at school!!!!!!!!!! I can’t think of a food that would rot my children’s brains more. They do buy lunch once a week. They used to buy everyday because my kids are crafty like that and buy even though they were sent with lunch. I recently laid down stiff penalties for that behavior. I am with you sista! Preach!
I know you are! Someone else commented their kids also had fruit loops at school? WTH? You bring up another good point – that kids are crafty and will find a way to eat what they want anyway – why make it so easy? Thanks Tara. Sorry I had to get you started 🙂
One of the lucky few. I’m in So Cal and our district is strides ahead of most. Most schools (K-12) have salad bars, chili bars, meatless Monday’s, grilled hamburgs and fruits and veggies from schools organic garden.
Lucky, lucky, lucky… I know. We are not a wealthy district over 75% of our families qualify for free or reduced lunches and also qualify for district supported breakfast. We made ALOT of noise, parent volunteers made gardens happen and working parents sacrifices a lot of weekends to help build hothouses and garden beds. We wrote letters, went to our kids schools for lunch, camped out at district meetings.. It sucked! And most of the time I was pretty bitter that I was tackling issues that didn’t feel like it was my job to deal with. I make sure my kids eat well at home, I teach healthy habit work shops and felt like I was doing my part…
Boiled down to using our voice, loudly!!! and Often!!!!
But change happened. Hang in there..
This is exactly what I needed to hear! I love that you made the changes happen from the voices and actions of the parents!! Thank you for your comment and for motivating me into action!
I’m super, super thankful that my kids go to a daycare/school that provides organic milk, fresh fruit and almost zero crap. I’m 100% certain I will be sending my kids to full time school with homemade lunches. There is just too much junk out there and the government doesn’t get what healthy is. It’s all about cost. Fruit Loops are cheap! Who cares that they are radioactive? Grrrrr!
Seriously! I will also be making lunches but, really? Ugh.
Regardless as to how much people try and push “healthier” meals at school… Kids will always find ways to get treats, and there will always be birthday parties, celebrations, holidays, etc. It’s annoying but it’s true. While we would love for kids to eat healthy, I think when kids turn into adults, they start to realize what’s healthy and what’s not and what works for their body. I really think that everyone needs to figure it out for themselves. Obviously, you lead by example, but forcing things will probably only make things worse. I remember when I was little my mother PUSHED AND PUSHED AND PUSHED – we did not have ANYTHING processed in my house, ever. My mother would make me Ezekiel Bread sandwiches – with tuna and canola oil mayo – LOL – and I would throw it out and go in for the Smart Food Popcorn and Sugar Cookies when I got to school. I have obviously since learned, but…. It definitely takes trial and error!
You speak volumes of truth my friend! I agree, to an extent about “pushing” healthy food. There should always be balance. Always. Kids should have treats, they are a part of life, and a damn good part. I just think that at school, where they’re learning about nutrition, healthy options should be offered up more then just the same ol’ yogurt plate every single day. If there’s a variety of crap, there should be a variety of health. I disagree with forcing a vegetable, but I also disagree that the “lucky plate” is the one with fried food on it. They should at least attempt to make healthy food as “fun” as the junk. Thanks, as always, for your great input!!…and I can’t believe your mom gave you Ezekiel bread!? I still think that’s gross!
Wow! I am surprised by this. My kids are not yet in school, so I had heard all the hype and figured school was nothing more than a glorified produce aisle at lunch. I guess not!
Luckily it’s not the same everywhere but, brace yourself just in case. Thanks for commenting!
Hey, saw your link on the SITSgirls Saturday Sharefest and wanted to chime in! My kids school has a really great lunch menu however, I’m a little frustrated with three things: cereal they sometimes serve at breakfast and candy. For one I’ve never given my kids candy or served cereal for my kids and so I was a little upset when I found that they introduced this to them at school. I think oatmeal is one food that I wish I could enjoy, however, the sight and smell of it makes me nauseous. My youngest daughter loves it. I gag through serving it to her on a regular basis however my oldest daughter shares my sentiment. So on the days I know they’re serving either I get up a little earlier to prep something better for them.
I don’t understand the logic behind giving kids candy at school. It just seems so unnecessary. When is the last time you had a dessert with lunch? It’s so not needed and neither is sugary cereal for that matter but at least I get why they serve it. Thanks for reading and commenting!
School lunches SUCK!!!! I have always packed a healthy lunch for the girls. 16 & 11… The 16 y/o is a USA TF athlete and the 11 y/o a horse rider, we are an active scuba diving family as well. Yes we partake in the occasional indiscretion…. I do try with them to teach them balance. I hate it when I open up their lunch box to discover that trading has gone on at lunch time, but what are you to do about that….
All of that said, I agree with cut out the choices, give two great meals and move on…..
My kids used to ask for once a year a school meal as a treat…. URGH!!! Then I said how about I bring in a deli sandwich or chopped salad from the local restaurant as a treat, they jumped at the idea…. The youngest’s school had no problem with that… Here is what happened at the oldest’s.
I brought in a delicious chopped salad, and was told by the front dest that only sandwiches from Jimmy Johns were allowed as an outside meal!!!! That is what they considered healthy!!! Their lowest calorie sandwich was over 600 calories!!!!
So the next time I put it in a brown bag and said she forgot her lunch, they were OK with that, and it could have been a Big Mac for all they knew…..
I love how you have to employ secret tactics to sneak in healthy food! So crazy.
Wow! How interesting, and rather sad, too. I didn’t ever go to school growing up, so I never had the school cafeteria experience growing up, but I know my husband has told me that the high school he went to had restaurant chains–like subway and pizza hut in it. Of course, that was high school. He also said that by that age he just brought his lunch to school every day because by then we was old enough to know that the cost and taste was better for homemade food, but younger kids don’t know any better. My Mom recalls that her family lived so close to their school, that from the time she and her sister were in 1st grade, they’d walk back home from school and make themselves lunch, and walk back for afternoon classes. Times have changed immensely!! But it still sounds like homemade food is the best option–it’s sad that some kids don’t even have the option for homemade food!
Homemade is always best when you can have it – for sure! You’re probably better off for not having had to experience a school cafeteria! Thanks for commenting.
The vending machines at the high school only have healthy choices (pretzels, granola bars etc – not perfect but better than candy). My daughter never buys lunch. My middle school son loves to buy once or twice a week. His favorites are toasted cheese sandwich and tomato soup or tacos. French fries come with both (wtf?), and fruit is offered. Guess what? He doesn’t get the fruit. I know it’s not stellar parenting to let him buy, but I do. However, he brings a lunch on the other days, and I feed him healthy food at home. What about the kids for whom the school lunch is the only meal they get each day? Those are the kids who are getting shortchanged.
I will say that I have noticed our school lunch menus getting healthier in the decade I’ve had kids in the school system. Progress is slow, but it’s there – in our county, anyway.
That actually sounds pretty good compared to some Dana, and yes, it’s the kids that can only eat at school who really get the short stick. I just feel like we can do better, even if it’s slow progress.
We’ve run into this since having custody of my 10yo step-daughter. We send lunch with her each day because of the food options (and other eating issues she had – s.l.o.w…… Most food went to waste). She still returns with food or I find she threw food in the trash, and then I find candy wrappers in her bag. Apparently it’s always someone’s birthday, and something else is going on – most likely there is sharing of all those nutritious fries and battered items… It’s hard, but even with not being able to control what happens at school, we have been able to teach her healthier habits and gotten her weight from 90th percentile down to the 68th percentile by limiting tv, encouraging activity, and offering healthier food options. That makes me proud – it’s too bad the schools aren’t on board with us…
Great points all across the board and I really enjoyed reading! Stopping by from SITS!
Thank you so much for stopping by and reading/commenting. And congratulations for getting your step-daughter back on track with her weight – wow!! That is really amazing and I’m sure she will be thanking you – if she hasn’t already. Great job!
Okay, I’m here to be devil’s advocate.
I can’t only draw from my own experience. I grew up in a no-processed food household. Only healthy, fresh food. We had to take lunches for a while until we begged to buy school lunch. We thought it was the greatest thing. Twenty-five years ago from what i can remember they served burgers and tater tots, corn dogs, spaghetti and meat sauce, salisbury steak, raviolis, etc. All processed, I’m sure. As we got older we were able to buy our lunches even more. And into middle and high school it was 100% school bought lunches. Looking back, high school offered much healthier alternatives than elementary school.
Despite all the junk, I lived. So did my friends. We ate a wholesome breakfast at home and an equally wholesome dinner. As a kid I swore I’d eat like crap just because I could but the healthy habits prevailed and I carried them onto my kids.
It sounds gross, yes, but if you don’t want your child exposed to corn dogs, send a lunch every day or homeschool. I don’t know what else to say. We ate it and we lived and I’m not over weight and I was a beanpole through elementary, middle, and high school. We have healthy options at home now but I’m not afraid of school lunches because I know my kids will have healthy food at home. And they’re active, they still have PE and recess (as long as THAT hasn’t been taken away), it’s not that big of a deal.
And isn’t it a running joke through generations that the school lunch ladies have always served barely edible food?
I definitely see your point and yes, it’s true – we all survived – but kids now are obese. It’s actually considered an illness at this point with childhood diabetes and a whole host of other preventable illnesses and diseases. My kids will be fine but what about the kids who ONLY eat at school?
I do love your comments and always love the devil’s advocate!
I’ll give you the NYC perspective. We used to sell ice cream for a dollar, we don’t do that anymore. There is 1%, 2%, and 1% chocolate milk and it is the lowest sugar content in chocolate milk I have ever seen. Each meal has a protein and a vegetable; however, it doesn’t negate the kids who bring a bag of doritos with them to lunch. In my six years of teaching I can honestly say there has been major change here (There’s still cheese sticks, pizza, or chicken fingers once a week) but I’ve seen sweet potato fries, grilled chicken, and salad in heavy rotation. Our kids don’t have a choice, they all receive free lunch. The sad part is when you see what they ACTUALLY eat. Most of the time, the veggies are left untouched. I told my teachers in kindergarten that I would love to do a study on snack in their classes; monitor who has a freshly made snack vs processed/prepackaged snack and compare that with their academic performance. Since there’s not time for extra work, my informal assessment is that the healthy lifestyle starts in the home. If they’re given fresh fruit, yogurt, or even cheese and crackers vs a sleeve of chips ahoy (real life example), these are also the kids who are doing better academically and whose parents take responsibility for their child’s academic life. The problem with our government (especially with our new mayor), is that they feel like taking responsibility away from parents because “we know what they need so we’ll just provide it”. You can’t instill a value in education in people, just like you can’t instill healthy habits by just offering healthy food. There needs to be FAMILY education, not just “send your kids and we’ll take care of it” because when they go home, it’s often a completely different mentality. Okay, END RANT! 🙂
Yes. Yes. Yes to the above.
AMEN sister! Rant on. I love it and I especially love that you’re involved and know what’s happening. Thank you for this and I would love to see a study done like that, although as you mentioned, it’s really not needed as you know the answer. Thank you Kristin!
I love that my kids’ preschool has their own kitchen, and that the chef is co-owner of the school. They pride themselves on healthy, organic homemade food, and they are always sneaking vegetables and other ‘superfoods’ in their cooking for the kids, without compromising on taste.
However, I do think they allow far too many birthday parties with cake and party favor bags full of junk. Such a shame.
That is amazing Alison! WOW! If only every school could do that…minus the party favor bags 🙂
This is funny, but sad. I don’t have any kids, but I think the Let’s Move! campaign is on the right track. Everything can’t change overnight! I ate some really, really awful stuff in middle school and high school when I didn’t bring my lunch (didn’t have a parent to make lunch for me, so this was most days), but I was lucky that I was very active and ate healthy food when I was at home. The vending machines in my area are a lot healthier now than when I was in school (thank God). I think that has more to do with local legislative changes as opposed to just relying on the federal government to fix everything. Jurisdictions like mine are SUPER health conscious, which is great, but I feel bad for people who live in areas where that is not the case.
I had to laugh at the super sizing comment, though. McDonald’s stopped super sizing their meals a decade ago, but I guess they did a great job marketing it when they still had them, because the term stuck!
It definitely depends on where you live! I agree that, of course, it’s not going to change overnight and I love Michelle (even more!) for taking this challenge on in the first place. I guess I just thought that we had come further in my town and I was kind of shocked when I realized what the reality was.
I also had no clue there was no more super sizing! I guess you have to actually GO to McDonald’s to find that out!!
Thanks for the comment 🙂