Every once in a while I am shocked anew at a school lunch menu that includes fried chicken shapes, corn, rice, and a roll. If you're up on your nutrition at all, you know that this is carb upon carb upon carb. Pair that with the offerings of flavored milk and dessert and all I can do is shrug and throw up my hands in bewilderment.
The schools say they focus on teaching nutrition, yet seem to fall flat on their faces when it comes to practicing what they preach, due in part to strange and arcane guidelines they must follow from the government, which also is not practicing what it preaches (see the USDA's www.mypyramid.gov) when it comes to school nutrition.
I recently signed a petition to update food standards in our schools and invite you to do the same if any of the children you love attend public schools.
I also recommend the recent series Food Revolution--you can watch all the episodes online if you missed them the first time. Several years ago chef Jamie Oliver led the charge to overhaul the school lunch system in the U.K., to such an extent that a friend who lives there says she'd eat at her kids' school as if it were a restaurant, the food is so good. Can you imagine? The food is prepared from scratch, so rather than opening a can of sauce or fruit in heavy syrup, school cooks prepare sauce from scratch and students enjoy fresh fruit. And the food is sourced locally as much as possible.
Food Revolution recounts his recent initiative in Huntington, WV.
Other great resources include The Lunch Box (which includes recipes and menus for schools and action plans for parents, principals, etc.) and the Healthy Schools Campaign.
You know I rarely put political stuff on here (other than it's every citizen's responsibility to vote or shut up), so you know this is near and dear to my heart. Luckily my kids have recognized the lack of quality in the school lunches and frequently pack their own. However, regardless of whether they eat the school lunch, all the kids are getting the wrong message on nutrition from our schools.