What are your thoughts on the school lunch reforms?

Did everyone see the reforms being made to school lunches across the country? There are some interesting, and to me disturbing, comments posted in response to the article. Many people are posting about a child’s right to eat what they want, and about this not being the answer to the childhood obesity problem. In response to the first part of that, I disagree strongly. And that is all I will say about that, unless there are people who want to discuss it further. As to the second point, I think they are absolutely right. This in itself is not the answer. Among other things, physical education programs need to become more of a priority again, and parents need to do their part at home. But I personally am thrilled that our government, which has been so ineffective of late, has taken a positive step to change this growing epidemic. The effects of childhood obesity are devastating and far-reaching. Self-esteem issues, childhood onset diabetes, long-term health problems, and an increased strain on an already thinly stretched healthcare system are just a few such effects. When is the last time you have seen our government spend money on a program that had potential for long term psychological, health AND financial benefits? The backlash has, to be completely honest, astounded me. That being said, I do understand that people are much more likely to be vocal about their complaints than their compliments-myself included. So what are your thoughts? I would be especially interested in hearing the opinion of some parents, since that is a viewpoint I do not personally have, although as always all comments are welcome!

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5 Responses to What are your thoughts on the school lunch reforms?

  1. Eric Simmons says:

    I like that the push is toward healthy eating, at my daughters school the lunches are prepared at a central location and then transported and reheated at the school. They are high fat and high salt items. My daughter doesn’t like many of the items that are offered and brings her lunch usually.
    In the linked article many of the replies lamented about the change in milk from whole to lowfat or skim milk, for the schools it’s a big trade off in money as evidenced in the price difference at the grocery store for the different kinds of milk. The kids probably won’t notice the change in creaminess of the milk and the 2% lowfat provides some of the fat needs for the day, the rest usually comes from other foods.

    • Dawn Whiting says:

      Thanks for the feedback Eric! I know this is pretty new, but has your daughter’s school contacted the parents about any of the changes coming up, or how quickly they will start the changes? That was one thing I haven’t seen in any of the reports yet.

      I hope you and your family are doing well!

      • Eric Simmons says:

        Our school district tends to be ahead of the curve in relation to many federal initiatives that come out due to our location, they started changing policy in 2006. My daughter’s school already stopped offering whole milk some time ago and the district is striving to have better nutrition, I think the hardest thing is finding things that the kids will eat and balancing it with cost. Their website (http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/departments/foodserv/index.shtm) lists their policy and action plans.
        Since our district changed policy in 2006 and I was stationed in California I don’t know how the changes were dissemenated. The schools do send home newsletters and monthly menus, however, websites are the preferred information sources because they are cheaper than paper and most homes/phones have internet access.

        I agree with Nicole in her post about getting at least one healthy meal per day and nutrition education while at school. However, parents must be involved in food planning at home and with food prices as they are it is getting harder to eat healthy, the processed foods are cheaper (in all senses of the word).

  2. Nicole says:

    In response to people complaining about a child’s right to choose their meals, I VERY MUCH disagree. As a mom, aunt, and elementary school teacher, I love kids, but I do not think they should be in charge of their meal planning. I eat lunch with my students everyday, and I end up doing a lot of police-ing of their meals. (for the record, the school does not ask me to comment on their lunches, many of my colleagues do not, and the kids don’t really appreciate it that much, but too bad.) If my second graders had their choice, 2 of them wouldn’t eat anything, at least 3 would only drink chocolate milk and any cookies/chips they brought from home, and most of them would not try ANY of the side dishes and many of the main dishes. I am a big proponent of “at least try it” or “you have to eat the bread, even if you don’t like the meat.” We start school at 7:45 and go until 3:30, and I know that they are not going to last all day on nothing… or the cereal they had in my room that morning.

    Our school began implementing healthier meals last year. They had guest chefs come in and try out new recipes and they focused on a monthly vegetable. The kids enjoyed the taste-tests, but I have yet to see any of those recipes on the calendar. They do serve wheat pasta, potatoe wedges instead of fries, ground turkey, and sometimes they blend veggies into the sauces. Also, much to student chagrin, we do not have pizza every friday. It’s been cut down officially to every-other friday, but the past two weeks have been pizza-free, so I think they are spreading it out even more. I am all for the healthy-lunch push. Most of my students get free lunch, and I know what they have or do not have at home. I feel better knowing they are getting at least one square meal a day. (and by the way, I do not like lunchables, which seem the preferred lunch from home.)

    • Dawn Whiting says:

      Thanks so much for the reply Nicole! It is great to have the perspective of someone who sees kids lunch choices in action. I think you and I are on the exact same page-I do think kids should have choices, but there’s a big difference between having choices and getting whatever you want. Even adults don’t get whatever we want! I’m glad to see your school is making some changes, even if they are slow coming. Do you think some of that is intentional, so the kids will adjust without even noticing? Have the kids said anything about the changes? (Other than the pizza of course!). Thanks again for the feedback!

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