My problems with the school lunches are so enormous and extensive. Chocolate milk is only one tiny subset of that. The overall amount of sugar offered on any given day is a big problem for me. So is the quantity of refined white flour. Yes, they do offer veggies-- but I wouldn't eat them, and neither will my kids. They're almost always mushy canned stuff with way too much salt on it. I've never seen a kid touch them, in all the times I've been to lunch at DD's school. DD's been raised on vegetables grown right outside her back door-- she's never HAD stuff like salted canned green beans, and doesn't even recognize them as food.
Most days even the fruit is canned-- in syrup, which means all that extra sugar. And yet everybody's singing the praises of the "new school lunch" here, because it's "low-fat." I don't even consider "low-fat" to be an appropriate diet for a child, anyway. And the processed meat with added nitrites offered literally three times a week infuriates me.
The trouble is that there's such enormous forces behind what the schools can offer, because of regulations and lobbying and out-of-date nutritional science and the not-inconsiderable pressure of parents who have raised kids who won't eat real food, and want a lunch their kids WILL eat.
What I'd like to see-- organic dairy, fresh meats, poultry, and fish carefully prepared, fresh vegetables prepared in tasty ways, whole grain baked goods, and fresh fruit-- isn't going to happen here. It'll never happen. I realize that, and I'm mostly resigned to it. So I compromise-- I talked to DD about her overall consumption of sugar, and she understands, and chooses chocolate milk once in a while, not every day. I send lunch, on the days when the lunch offered is really objectionable to me. And then the rest of the time, I pretend not to know about it, and just make sure that what she's eating at home is extra-good, to make up for it.
It really does bother me to think about those kids for whom school lunch may be the best meal they eat all day. In the schools I worked in, that was often the case, for a lot of kids. And that I find rather upsetting. If the only vegetable a child is going to get, all day, is going to come from the school lunch, surely we, as a society, could maybe arrange for it to be appetizing and fresh? If the only milk a child is going to get is going to come from the school lunch, couldn't we arrange for it to be fresh and organic, and not adulterated with non-food ingredients? I just think it's sad.
I think if parents want to feed their kids non-food junk and refined carbohydrates and processed meat full of added nitrites, they should most certainly be free to do so, but I think the federal school lunch program, which is supposed to help ensure that our poorest children are getting essential nutrients, should be held to a higher standard. I think the schools ought to stand for something better.
But it'll never happen.
I do think abolishing chocolate milk is a nice first step. I think the school lunch ought to only offer fresh, natural, unadulterated foods. If kids want to eat or drink something else, that should be their parents' job to provide it.
me , he , my three , , and -- and the one we lost