Mothering Forum banner
1 - 20 of 30 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
2 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
(I'd like to first and foremost point out that I am in no way trying to disrespect meat eaters - I'm just at my wit's end with this!)

Alright, we're in Texas, and my 8 and 6 yo's both go to public school. Apparently (from what I've been told) the state "requires" that if they eat the school lunch, then they absolutely *must* take the meat - they cannot refuse it. They may throw it away afterwards, but they have to take it.

I have problems with this on several levels:

1) It's goshdarn wasteful! We may not be meat eaters, but we certainly respect different opinions/lifestyles than our own, and someone could eat that! The money wasted on that food could go to another area - arts, etc. All in all, it's just wasteful.

2) I don't want meat on their plates. Period. I don't want it touching their food. It's (and I'm very hesitant to use this word, but for lack of a better one at the moment) offensive to force them to have some dead animal on their plate.

3) Ours may be a lifestyle choice, but what about religions that forbid meat (or certain meats) eating?

4) What happened to being respectful of others' choices? They stress in our school system "choices" - he made a "bad choice" by breaking the rules, or he made a "good choice" by picking up the litter. But then they force them to have death on their plate. But then all the posters around the school say "Eat more veggies!" Hypocritical much??

Now, I know the easiest answer is: Have them bring lunch from home! Yes, but 1) they enjoy eating lunch with their peers in this fashion, 2) not everyone can do that (income levels sometimes makes it necessary esp. in our area that the children eat lunch at school). For a long time we did make their lunch and send it with them to school. My husband and I don't have a problem with that (and would actually prefer it). But the kids would rather eat at school.

Has anyone ever dealt with this situation? What did you do? Whom did you contact? Was it easy to resolve, or was it a fight? Please, I'm looking for *any* input here!
If it helps, we're in the Plano Ind. school district. Thanks all!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,191 Posts
Hm, I am a school teacher, and not a vegetarian, but I would be appalled if any of my kids were forced to pick up meat if their family was vegetarian! You are absolutely correct, it makes no sense, and is wasteful, and is disrespectful. You should not be punished because of your belief system, and you should not have to make lunches.

I can't imagine the school having a reasonable defense. I'd start with a teacher or a guidance counselor, and move on up to the principal, and the head of the district. I would expect for it to be resolved in early stages though.

Best of luck!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,683 Posts
Kaffy;8377023 Apparently (from what I've been told) the state "requires" that if they eat the school lunch said:
Who told you this? Was it school personel? Ask the office first, then the principal. Then move to district office. Honestly, I can't imagine them having such a rule and sometimes these things get said somewhere and suddenly it's a "rule" but none really exists.
Have them show it to you in writing! That often gets things settled.

Fastest way to stop it if it is real is to go to the newspaper or TV-no one wants to hear about wasteful spending without making a stink.
good luck
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
9,674 Posts
I've had kids in public schools in Georgia and now in Oregon. I have never heard of such a practice. I have heard of vegetarians being shown the salad bar for lunch but not having unwanted meat dumped on their plate. That is really unfortunate. I'd call the head lunch lady if I were you and see if you can't get this changed.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,892 Posts
I would assume that this would be a general rule that, with parental interference, could get changed rather quickly.

I would assume it's one of those things that, if one or two kids claimed they didn't want something on THEIR lunch plate, then other kids could start saying the same things, and it gets much grayer then. Suppose many of the other kids mostly want the sides instead of the main course (I was one of them!) If some kids are allowed to get this, then other kids would be able to say "Nah, don't put that on my plate, either!" And it becomes a slippery slope. I know of some parents that would love this rule, as they believe the protein/meat portion is a very important part of the meal and wouldn't want to give their kids the power to just choose sides or junk food or whatever for lunch instead of at least having to take the whole meal back to the table with them, hence at least upping the chances they might actually eat some of it.

Hope that made sense.

*However*, I believe a healthy vegetarian option for children should always be available for children in the lunch room. With so many fams going veggie these days, it's just a respectful, appropriate thing to do.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,976 Posts
While working at a summer camp many years ago, we recieved federal money for some of the food prepared and served to the campers. As such, we were REQUIRED to put a carton of 2% milk on their trays, regardless of whether or not they asked for it, or even wanted it. They could not bypass the milk, and we told them if they chose not to drink it we'd provide them water or juice, and we filled a garbage can each day with the milk they threw out, b/c once we'd served it, even unopened, we could not re-serve it.

Federal food money often binds the school to specific guidelines that you can probably find a way around, but you'll have to look hard.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
99 Posts
If the school is getting federal money they must serve certain items. Milk, Bread, Veggie, and Meat (or meat alternative) are required in certain quantities. So if a student doesn't take the meat the school can't be reimbursed for the meal becaue it doesn't meet the requirements. The rules are different under different components, but the net result is that the federal government has made it very hard for schools to serve vegetarian meals.

More information is available here:
http://www.pde.state.pa.us/food_nutr...sp?a=5&Q=45622
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,219 Posts
As a school administrator, I agree that USDA regulations require the school to serve a "complete" meal to each child, defined as one that includes a protein source, vegetables, fruit etc . . . Children can't pick and choose among those items.

However, there's nothing preventing the school from creating two "complete" meal options. That's what our school does -- there's a veggie and a meat choice. Families make their decision about what they want at the beginning of each quarter (you can only buy lunch by the quarter, not by the day) and then the child gets the appropriate lunch each day. So a Muslim family who objected to pork would need to choose veggie every day. The lunches are usually comparable in that if the meat eaters get a turkey sandwich on whole wheat, an apple, and some green beans the vegetarians get the same meal with a cheese sandwich.

Our school serves the lunches on trays that are brought in from elsewhere and heated at school, so even if we wanted to removing something from a meal isn't realistic.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,698 Posts
It's late, and I'm sure that my thought's aren't going to form properly...

Momily, I understand where you're coming from as an administrator. But what you stated is one of the very reasons why I'd choose an alternative form of education. There are places that have been able to work around this to provide healthy meals (not pre-made trays or the boxes of pre-fabbed food items my mother, a lunch lady, would prepare.) I don't understand why more healthy options, under Federal guidelines, can't be created. Even in the documentary, Supersize Me, there was a school that found a way to provide fresh cooked meals daily to students rather than frozen, processed ones. That school noted how problem patterns decreased when healthy food options were provided to their students. I just don't understand why more schools can't do that...
:

Even tonight, at a dinner out with my mother (a very rare event, indeed!) the father of 3 at the next table over told his children, "Okay, that is it for the sodas this week. It's obvious you [three] have had enough sodas." I doubt they will follow through. But the fact that the kids got soda at home and many school campuses have vending machines makes me wonder...

(And Momily, I didn't mean that entirely toward you, but the greater discussion group of you.
)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,219 Posts
Quote:

Originally Posted by heket View Post
It's late, and I'm sure that my thought's aren't going to form properly...

Momily, I understand where you're coming from as an administrator. But what you stated is one of the very reasons why I'd choose an alternative form of education.
Actually, in our case I think the options that they offer at my child's charter school, and the one I work at (both use the same caterer) are pretty healthy. Yes, they come on a tray and there's not much in the way of choices (just one veggie and one meat and you have to choose by the quarter, not the meal) and yes that's prepared elsewhere, but that in and of itself doesn't make the food unhealthy IMHO. The food is not frozen, it's prepared at the catering site and delivered to the school.

While the kids at my local public school are eating things like greasy hamburgers and fries while my son's friends (my son prefers that I pack for him) are eating a lowfat turkey sandwich on whole grain bread, a piece of fresh fruit and some steamed veggies.

Given that pretty much every public school allows you to bring food from home, I'm not sure why you'd pick an alternative form of education based on what they serve at lunch
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,357 Posts
We are vegetarian, and my son brings his lunch every day. However, our school district offers a vegetarian main course option 3-4 days a week. Now that my son is older and is a big advocate for his vegetarian status, I would feel comfortable having him buy lunch on days that there is an acceptable veg. option. Some days the veg. option is a muffin (probably packaged and very sweet) and yogurt (with gelatin).

There are these wierd federal rules (meat and dairy industry lobbyist influenced, I am sure). I had to get a doctor's note saying that my daughter could not have cow milk and needed a soy substitute so her child care center could give her soy milk. My daughter had an actual dairy allergy, but I have vegan friends who have had docs write the waiver for them.

Crazy stuff.

L.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,300 Posts
As a teacher (currently home with kids), I'm sure it has to do with funding and offering a balanced meal. Without the meat, most school lunches wouldn't be enough food to fill a hungry child, from what I've seen. I am not a vegetarian, but my oldest dd was for over a year and a half. She still eats barely any meat. Luckily, her school offers a meatless lunch at least 2-3x a week. On those days, she would eat the school lunch. On the other days, I'd pack. Her school doesn't always make them take meat. For example, once a month they have pancakes with sausage. The kids are free to refuse the sausage and she gets extra pancakes. Otherwise, I'm not sure what they would do. For example, if the menu is chicken nuggets and she refuses the meat, the side dishes and dessert wouldn't be enough food. I'd probably have gotten a call. They don't force them to take food that will be thrown away, but they are a Catholic school and do not receive federal funding, so it's a different situation. They focus on not wasting, which I love. I think your only options are to lobby for a vegetarian option or pack lunches.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,628 Posts
I live on the East Coast in a diverse area and there is a meatless (though not vegan) lunch everyday (cheese pizza & salad) as well as a second option that changes and is sometimes meatless. Such a policy would be very intolerant of the religion of at least 1/3 of the students in our local public school....there are many Jewish, Hindu & Muslim families in our area....that policy is wasteful and would NEVER fly here.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
687 Posts
In my state kids HAVE to take the meat and milk... and my kids are vegetarians who don't drink milk. (they do eat cheese though and that is their choice, though I am vegan and hope they will be some day)

I have told the school that my son does not drink milk and will not drink it but they insist he must take it and throw it out. It is so wasteful and disrespectful, of both my son and the poor cows who suffer and die to provide the steady stream of milk for everyone.


For us the answer was sending lunch every day. On cold days I would have preferred him getting a hot meal but that wasn't really an option.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
50 Posts
**Please excuse me if I double-post this. I had some trouble with the spell checker!!**

I sympathize with you! I taught in PISD for several years, and while it used to be a tooth and nail fight to get a lunch without meat, it shouldn't be now. The children are required by the state to take an entree, but the district is very sensitive to diversity, and they now offer a meatless entree every day. (Like wildmonkeys mentioned, it isn't vegan.)

You can go to the Plano ISD website, click on the "parents" tab and see the menus from last year to get an idea of the entrees.

Also, there is the option to request a veggie burger on any day. I was a summer school coordinator, and we had a student with very strict religious beliefs who ate veggie burgers as an entree every day. It helps to let the cafeteria manager know you plan to do this ahead of time so they will know to order enough.

Another thing that could help is to ask the cafeteria manager to make the cash register say "no meat" when your child enters his or her lunch code. I've had students with allergies or religious dietary requirements whose parents have done this. It will certainly help back up what your child tells the teachers/cafeteria workers!

And, for what it is worth, the fruit and yogurt plate was probably my students' favorite entree-vegetarian or not!

I hope this helps you!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,714 Posts
Quote:

Originally Posted by rabrog View Post
If it offends you so much, just pack them a lunch. The only reason I would make it an issue is if taking cold lunch from home is not an option.

Jenn
but her children want to eat a hot meal with their friends - why should they be forced into sending in a lunch just because they are being forced into accepting something onto their plate that goes against their beliefs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18,562 Posts
My child is a vegetarian and took her own lunch every single day last year. She said her friends were jealous because she got good food and they didn't. Her fav. lunch is hot mac and cheese packed in a thermos jar. Her school only offers two vegetarian lunches per month. It's just not much of an issue. A kid can still eat with their friends and eat her own lunch from home. If you make the lunch really fun she won't feel left out at all. She might be envied.
 
1 - 20 of 30 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top