Friday, September 7, 2012

School Lunch Changes Leaving Kids Hungry

Maybe you've been hearing the same complaints from your kids that I've been hearing all week . . . "Why don't they give us enough food for lunch at school? Why can't we get thirds anymore? Why does it all taste so bad?" The new changes in school lunch at our local elementary school was the kid's topic of discussion at the bus stop this morning. The kids are learning all about federal mandates the hard way—through their stomachs and the school lunch program.

Welcome to the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010! It's kicking in this school year. In an effort to reduce obesity and provide a "healthier" lunch at school lunchrooms across the country, Uncle Sam via the current Administration has dramatically changed what your child now eats for lunch. For kids that are used to getting heaping piles of food, the new lunch standards are a rude awakening. Here some of the changes:

  • Larger servings of fruit and veggies
  • Fewer servings of meat and bread
  • Only fat free or low fat milk choices
  • Smaller portions overall
  • More whole grains
  • School lunch programs required by law to follow minimum and maximum calorie ranges for each meal served to students

If you'd like even more details of this new law, see the attached link from the USDA that lists all of the new regulations for your kid's lunch.

So what do the kids think about all of this? They are HUNGRY! My 14-year old Freshman son was given 5 chicken nuggets, 3 french fries, and an apple for lunch on the first day of school. No seconds were offered. He's not built like a 2nd grader; he's nearly a man. To top it off, he had to play in a football game after school. I don't think that's quite enough food for an active growing teen. For many kids, their school lunch is the only hot meal of the day. Is it right to cut back calories for growing kids?

Elementary kids echo these same sentiments. Lunches are much smaller this year and the low-fat food doesn't taste as good. If you remember back, school lunches were never particularly tasty but now are even worse.

Like many other families, we are getting around this problem. Brown bag lunches. However some schools are now banning brown bag lunches as well because kids are using it as a "strike" tactic. Kids bring their lunch from home which results in no one eating school lunch. This will not solve the problem though as this is now federal law. The best way to change the school lunch program is not by going on strike but contacting your Member of Congress.

I think we are all against childhood obesity and support improved nutritional choices for our kids. I do think it's unfortunate that now Americans must rely on the federal government to completely revamp the school lunch program. Worse yet, prices have gone up! All those fruits and veggies that kids are tossing into the trash are not cheap. I wouldn't really mind paying more for better quality food (organic) with roughly the same portions and instead not allowing kids to get seconds and thirds unless they have cleaned their plates. You cannot get more pizza until you finish up that pile of broccoli and your apple. Isn't that the rule for most families?

As a parent, I would hope that by this time I've instilled in my kids the ability to make the right choices about the food they eat. I really don't need Uncle Sam to step in and take over.

3 comments: said...

OH my gosh! I am SO mad! And I told my almost 15 year old that everyone should strike with a brown bag lunch. But then as you mentioned, the entire school would probably be punished with a bag lunch ban. My 5' 11" 126 pound son NEEDS the calories and he certainly isn't getting it from the school lunches.

My son told me yesterday that the kids were required to take
"two" fruits yesterday. A boy in front of him in line chose one fruit and one vegetable instead and was sent back to exchange the veggie for a fruit. It was against the rules to have one of each.

I'm with you. I'd be willing to pay a bit more for something my kids will actually eat. AND I'm tired of the governement trying to dictate my diet or that of my children. I'm just waiting for the brown bag police to be potroling our lunchroom next...

Missy said...

Thanks, I just emailed Michelle Bachman, this is pathetic!:(

Christianna said...

Awesome Missy! Thanks for getting in touch with Rep. Bachman. That is the only way around this problem.