Ellyn Satter has done a lovely piece with her reactions to the changes coming for school lunch programs. Of several great quotes, here is one I really liked…
“Stop being so data-resistant with respect to what school nutrition programs can accomplish. As demonstrated by huge, highly funded interventions, tight controls on school menus leave children’s overweight status unchanged. Children apparently compensate elsewhere for restrictions at school.”
I too had many of her concerns, after helping summarize the Proposed Rule to align National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) with 2005 Dietary Guidelines (link to the summary is in ellyn’s post linked to above.) (Boy, even only reading a chunk of that report was painful!) I’m all for a variety of great-tasting, wholesome foods going to our kids. Hey, if we can use local produce, even better. An area I found disheartening is that the stricter guidelines, with tighter calorie and fat and sodium content will push schools to rely on more and more processed foods. In our effort to micromanage micronutrients, I fear we will be serving processed foods that taste horrible. Serve another 1/2 cup of steamed, bitter broccoli and you’ll get most kids just throwing more of it away. Hey, if some industrial food giant can make a pre-packaged, pre-processed food product that has the exact # of grams of X, Y and Z, that will make menu planning, and compliance paperwork that much easier! And, if they can make the product cheap, they can even make a nice little profit to boot! The report made several references to “more processed” foods (though they also seemed to think schools might do more “from scratch” and didn’t explain the inconsistencies, or provide funding for more kitchen equipment etc…)
Check out this blog for photos of the prepackaged products served for lunch at one school cafeteria, and why it makes me afraid, and a little nauseated. It looks worse than airline food. The blog I linked to is called Fed Up with School Lunch, and has lots of photos and reviews of less-than-appetizing meals.
What are your experiences with your school’s lunch program? (The above link to Ellyn’s site has the our full synopsis of the changes, and an email address for you to voice your concerns…)