If Your Kids’ Lunches Look Like This, You’re Probably Creating Monsters, warns Paula Bolyard on PJ Media’s new parenting blog. At the very least, “you’re setting your kids up for future disappointment and practically ensuring that their future spouses will hate you.”
Sixty-three percent of high school students and 70 percent of middle schoolers say the new, healthier school lunches are tolerable, according to a new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Complaints about the food are down, students said. But food waste is up.
Some school districts are dropping out of the federal lunch program because they’re losing money, reports Education News. More full-pay students are brown-bagging or going off campus to buy lunch.
In Fort Thomas, Kentucky, students are rejecting the cafeteria food, says Superintendent Gene Kirchner.
“We watch children every day walk past the cash register and then throw away things that we are forced, have forced them to take essentially, as a result of the federal requirements for lunches … There’s no guarantee that the things they bring from home are healthier, or that if they stop by the minute market on the way to school and what they grabbed at that point is a healthier option,” Kirchner said.
My nutritionist stepdaughter will not be designing school lunches this year. The “ridiculous” federal rules have made it so time-consuming that the nonprofit where she works was losing money on the contract.
Alise vs. the Mayor the first in a pro-charter mini-series, pits a cute 10-year-old girl who loves reading against Mayor Bill deBlasio, who tried to close her school. Alise Alexander is a student at Success Academy‘s Harlem Central.
The school’s fifth graders — nearly all black and Latino and more than three-quarters from low-income families — scored first in the state in math in 2013 notes The Blaze.
A HuffPost story on public school “apartheid” complains that a Harlem Children’s Zone charter school is better equipped, more cheerful and serves a much better lunch than the ones district students get.
(At the Promise Academy charter), the brightly lit hallway is decorated with the student’s artwork. Every class has three teachers, 20 students and an abundance of computers, lab equipment and books. More grown-ups monitor the hallways.
One floor up is public middle school 469. It is Depression-era Kansas to the Promise Academy’s Oz. The hallway is grim, undecorated, and poorly lit. A group of older boys shove one another against lockers, which are mainly unused because they are too easy to break into, and a gaggle of eighth grade girls are huddled together whispering, plotting, gossiping. There are several hundred children bursting with energy and one security guard at one end of the hallway leaning against the wall.
The classrooms are largely devoid of books and equipment. One room has square black tables pushed together into groups suggesting a scientific purpose. It is easy to imagine beakers bubbling over Bunsen burners, but that was a long time ago, before the kids threw the scalding beakers at one another and a teacher.
. . . At some point, we tacitly consented to the notion that providing only 20 percent of the children in Harlem, those that win the lottery and go to charter schools, with adequate teachers, equipment and food, is a morally acceptable public policy.
The story is nonsense, writes Robert Pondiscio. He works for Democracy Prep, which runs a second charter school in the same building. “We run it on public dollars, at a per pupil rate that is lower, not more, than district schools.”
If the charters provide more for students than the district-run schools, why not expand the charters so more students can enjoy adequate teachers, equipment and food, plus lighting and supervision?
More schools are serving breakfast, reports Education Week. In many large school districts, more than 90 percent of schools that serve a federally subsidized lunch also serve a subsidized breakfast, according to a Food Research and Action Center report. More than half of low-income students who ate the school lunch also ate the school breakfast.
Some schools serve breakfast in the classroom, so students don’t have to arrive early. That can be messy, cut into teaching time and encourage kids to eat at home and at school. Other schools offer a “grab ‘n’ go” breakfast.
Nine-year-old Martha Payne can photograph her school lunches once again for her wildly popular NeverSeconds blog. Faced with a storm of protest, the Argull and Bute Council lifted its cafeteria photo ban, reports the BBC.
The Scottish school girl’s blog, which rates meals on a “food-o-meter,” has recorded more than three million hits.
Among the pictures Martha published on her blog was one featuring her £2 lunch of a pizza slice, a croquette, sweetcorn and a cupcake.
Martha wrote: “I’m a growing kid and I need to concentrate all afternoon and I can’t do it on one croquette. Do any of you think you could?”
A newspaper published a photograph of Martha with a chef under the headline “Time to fire the dinner ladies.” The school catering staff was “in tears,” a council executive said.
The publicity helped Martha reach her charitable goal: Her blog has raised enough money to fund a kitchen in Malawi for children receiving Mary’s Meals.
A pre-k teacher has been suspended for giving a girl a school lunch in addition to her brown-bag lunch sent from home, reports the Carolina Journal. Apparently, a scapegoat was needed for the infamous chicken-nugget incident. The assistant superintendent’s letter to parents said the teacher violated district policy, though it didn’t state which policy or why the teacher had to be removed from the classroom.
A consultant for the state health department told West Hoke Elementary to supplement homemade lunches if they didn’t include milk, two servings of fruit or vegetables, a serving of grain or bread, and a serving of meat or meat alternative.
A teacher offered a 4-year-old girl a cafeteria tray with chicken nuggets, a sweet potato, bread, and milk to replace the turkey and cheese sandwich, potato chips, banana, and apple juice her mother had packed for her.
Thinking her homemade lunch was unhealthy, the girl didn’t eat it. But she didn’t care for the school lunch, so she ate only the chicken nuggets. Her mother thinks blaming the teacher is ridiculous.
“We are concerned for Ms. Maynor [the teacher] and want her back in the classroom, as she was only following guidelines,” the mother wrote in an email to her state representative, Republican G.L. Pridgen of Robeson County. “It’s the government that needs to be reprimanded and changed.”
State health officials say the girl’s homemade lunch was just fine: Cheese can substitute for milk, it’s fruit or vegetable and there are no demerits for the potato chips. In fact, the carb-heavy school lunch doesn’t sound all that healthy, even if there was enough sweet potato to count as two servings of veg. And what about lactose-intolerant kids?
A four-year-old’s home-packed lunch — turkey-and-cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips and apple juice — was rejected by a state lunchbox inspector at a North Carolina elementary school, reports the Carolina Journal. Instead the preschooler ate three chicken nuggets from the school lunch – and nothing else. Mom was charged $1.25.
“What got me so mad is, number one, don’t tell my kid I’m not packing her lunch box properly,” the girl’s mother told CJ. “I pack her lunchbox according to what she eats. It always consists of a fruit. It never consists of a vegetable. She eats vegetables at home because I have to watch her because she doesn’t really care for vegetables.”
The state requires all lunches served in pre-K programs — including in-home day-care centers — to meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines, which call for one serving of meat, one serving of milk, one serving of grain, and two servings of fruit or vegetables.
As it turns out, the lunch did meet USDA guidelines. “With a turkey sandwich, that covers your protein, your grain, and if it had cheese on it, that’s the dairy,” said Jani Kozlowski, the fiscal and statutory policy manager for the division (of child development). The lunch has to include a fruit or vegetable, but not both, she said. Potato chips don’t de-nutritionize an otherwise health lunch.
So North Carolina hires lunchbox inspectors — at what salary I wonder? — to snatch turkey sandwiches from little girls. (OK, they didn’t take her home-packed lunch away, but she didn’t eat it because she’d been told it was “not healthy,” according to her mother.)
The school principal says parents aren’t charged for the school lunch. The pre-K program is funded by the state for children from low-income families or those with special needs.
It’s a “non-troversy,” argues The League of Ordinary Gentlemen. The inspector was investigating the school’s compliance with the subsidized lunch program, which requires providing additional food to kids who don’t bring a healthy lunch.
A second mother has complained, saying her daughter was told not to eat her home-packed lunch (salami and cheese on a wheat bun and apple juice). Instead, she ate chicken nuggets, sweet potato and milk. A letter sent to parents warns they may be charged if they miss a food group and their child receives supplemental food.
For School Lunches, Hold the Plastic Sandwich Bag, writes the New York Times. Some schools are requiring waste-free lunches — everything must be edible, compostable or reusable — to cut down on garbage and promote “green” values.
Brown baggers are supposed to buy neoprene lunch bags; plastic containers are replacing plastic sandwich bags. Aluminum water bottles are in; plastic throwaways are out.
“Ziplocs are the biggest misstep,” said Julie Corbett, a mother in Oakland, Calif., whose two girls attend a school with an eco-friendly lunch policy. In school years past, she said, many a morning came unhinged when the girls were sent to school with disposable sandwich bags.
“That’s when the kids have meltdowns, because they don’t want to be shamed at school,” Ms. Corbett said. “It’s a big deal.”
At the very least, it’s a first-world problem.
Judith Wagner, a Whittier College education professor, is trying to persuade parents at the lab school to pack less wasteful lunches.
“Parents will say things like, ‘Well, I want her to have a choice, and if I put in a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich and a ham sandwich, she has a choice,’ ” Professor Wagner said. “And each one comes in its own separate plastic bag.”
What comes next, she said, is a hard call. “Do you go back to the parents and say, ‘Gosh, can you rethink the plastic bags and all this food?’ Or do you talk to the children, and you make the children feel guilty because they’re throwing this all away?”
Forget about the plastic bags. Who packs a throwaway sandwich so little Emma can have a choice at noon instead of making up her mind at 7 am?
Sales of paper bags and sandwich bags are declining. Retailers offer a host of eco-friendly lunch containers.
At the Container Store, popular items this year include Japanese bento-box-style lunch boxes, Bobble water bottles with built-in filters, reusable cotton sandwich bags called snackTaxis, and PeopleTowels, machine-washable napkins.
In Oakland, Sally Corbett complains that plastic containers require cleaning and aren’t cheap, especially if they get lost. For field trips, she packs sandwiches in waxpaper. “It’s still a no-no because you’re still having to throw that away, but it is biodegradable, it does compost, so you’re not as guilty,” she said.
It’s a religion, writes Andrew Stuttaford.
At New York City’s high-priced private schools, the $35,000-a-year tuition includes free-range, cage-free, locally sourced, chef-designed lunches, reports the New York Times. Forget about mystery meat and tater tots. These kids get “steak and blue cheese tossed with dandelion greens” and “oven-roasted rutabaga fries.”
Students at Friends Seminary eat locally sourced, grass-fed beef. Girls at Spence eat sesame Napa cabbage. Earlier this year, Dalton students welcomed, an alumnus and food activist, and Dan Barber, owner of the high-end farm-to-table Blue Hill restaurant, for a daylong food symposium. . . . Discussions included food production in America and the perfect Moroccan merguez. Lunch, served family style, included roasted fennel with Parmesan frico, apple and red onion on frisée and faro with grilled vegetables and nebbiolo vinaigrette.
I don’t know what most of those words mean, but then I was raised on bologna sandwiches and tomato soup (home) and beefaroni (school). Roasted fennel salad?