My Daughter's Elementary School Lunches



  • daffodilsoup
    daffodilsoup Posts: 1,972 Member
    In my daughter's first day of school package (she's in 3rd grade), we received a newsletter from Food and Nutrition Services (FNS). They've apparently developed monthly Energy Zone articles to go in the monthly parent newsletters.

    Anyway, this part is interesting. They've changed the lunches to meet new federal nutrition standards based on the latest nutrition science by the Institute of Medicine and Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

    These changes include:

    Reduced calories based on the grad of the students
    Reduced protein portions for grades K-5
    Increased fruits and vegetables
    A new requirement that students MUST select one serving of vegetable or fruit with lunch
    Limited number of servings of whole grains - rich breads and cereals.
    Choice of only fat-free flavored or unflavored milk or 1% low-fat unflavored milk.
    Focus on reduced saturated fats and sodium and zero trans fats.

    I think this is a good thing, but I was wondering what you guys thought. Part of me doesn't like the government making these decisions, but I recognize that too many parents don't teach their children to eat properly.

    On the menu today at her school:

    Taco meal and cheese sauce o ncorn tortilla rounds
    Taco meat, cheese sauce, baked potato/fruit roll
    Hummus Bitable

    Steamed Green beans
    cauliflower w/sugar snap peas
    tossed salad w/ chilled pears w/cherry garnish
    fresh apple slices

    Southwestern spicy chicken salad w/black beans and corn, corn tortilla rounds
    Chef salad w/cheese, green peas, corn tortilla rounds

    I'm not sure how I feel. I mean...what if a kid needs more protein? Or less? What if he needs the fat from whole milk? What if he just throws away the veggie?

    Then his parents should pack his own lunch.

    Good on the school for taking steps to improve nutrition in their cafeteria - my schools NEVER offered sides of salad or veggies, and rarely fresh fruit. Change doesn't happen overnight - it's definitely a process, so good for them for starting the process!
  • 12skipafew99100
    12skipafew99100 Posts: 1,669 Member
    I emailing my kids principal and food services director because my kids have celiac disease. The food services director told my 11 yo he had to have a dr note to request a gluten free option. I called BS on it :) Mainly, my kids were diagnosed at 1 and 3 and I rarely take them in and didn't see any reason to take them just to obtain a dr note.

    They told me that the new guidelines require them to have a Gluten Free option as well. Which I also found interesting, because I doubt the kitchen staff is trained to properly prepare a true gluten free meal. No gluten in the food yes, but truly gluten safe - doubt it.

    I don't view the school lunch program as responsible for feeding my kids safely or nutritionally. Having looked over a few menus, most were not food I would have EVER fed my kids to begin with. I'm glad that someone is looking at it those, the majority of kids in my childrens school are obese.

    If my kids had celiac disease I would not let them eat food from school. As you know cross contamination is such a high risk even if they did have a quality menu fit for these special kids. Packing your own lunch for them really is your only option.
  • Moonbeamlissie
    Moonbeamlissie Posts: 504 Member
    I don't disagree with the lunches. I think kids should be offered the healthy items but if they are not going to eat it there is no sense in it being thrown away. Just have it there in case they want it. Also, what I do not agree with is why they have made this reform of school lunches. They feel that it will help the obesity epidemic that is hitting our young ones. I can not see how this helps. I mean.. if the parents are not going to provide healthy foods then how is any of this going to help? Those same kids that throw the corn away at lunch are probably going to go home and eat a couple bowls of cereal or twinkies etc.... Just my thoughts.
  • Ruthe8
    Ruthe8 Posts: 423 Member
    Part of me doesn't like the government making these decisions
    Really, well who would you prefer made the decisions about what to serve at lunch? Should the parents get together and take a vote on the daily menus?
    what if a kid needs more protein? Or less? What if he needs the fat from whole milk? What if he just throws away the veggie?
    And how would you propose this should be handled? Should they make individual meals according to your preferences?

    You aren't being realistic. It's a cafeteria setting, they can't cater to each parent and child's individual needs. If you don't like the options then you pack a lunch.
  • karrielynn80
    karrielynn80 Posts: 395 Member
    While I am nervous of the government making these decisions, esp so broadly. It would appear they are aiming for a lower fat content in diets, i think i'd make sure & up my kids protien (and calories if needs be) but its comforting to know they are making an effort to lower the fats.

    personally i think if they' do just that (esp the saturated fats) all the grains & protien wouldn't need to be messed with, but that's just my 2 cents.
  • I see your side of the issue, but as a former teacher in a low-income school, I think providing at least one healthy meal a day for kids through the school is a good thing. Some of my kids didn't get enough to eat at home or subsisted on a diet of Ramen noodles and cereal because they're cheap. The fruits and vegetables being offered at school are the only ones those students saw all day. Most students aren't super athletic in grade school, so a reduction in their protein intake at one meal isn't going to harm their health, especially since it is in line with the new government standards. All this being said, I brought my lunch to school most everyday by junior high and high school because I realized how gross the food was. Certainly as a teacher, I brought my lunch everyday. It made me sad to realize the food I wouldn't touch was the best meal many of my students got all day.
  • 0somuchbetter0
    0somuchbetter0 Posts: 1,335 Member
    I think it's great they're finally making an effort to serve healthier choices in school cafeterias. Why are people all upset that it's a government program? This knee-jerk anti-government nonsense has got to stop. I just wrote a long political rant but, but on second thought, this isn't the place for it so I deleted it.

    Anyway, I'm glad school lunches are healthier. That said, I don't think mass-produced and processed food is healthier than the fresh stuff I can send from home, so we opt out. To the poster whose daughter was disappointed that they stopped serving dessert at school...put a cookie in her backpack, problem solved.
  • I understand them trying to improve the diets of kids any way they can. The lunches at my daughters school are so horrible. I have always taught her to eat properly and she refuses to eat their lunch. She calls the fruit in syrup fake fruit. Just recently I was really tired and did not want to make lunch so I told her she was going to have the schools lunch. I figure once would not hurt. Her response......SHE STARTED CRYING!!! I have to sad that is pretty sad.

    My younger daughter that just started kinder loves eating the schools lunch because so many of the kids in her class eat it and its fun to her to go pick it. I only let her have it once a week. She comes home that day super hungry. I guess nacho's, canned pineapple and chocolate milk is not filling enough :-)

    I feel if schools cannot provide a healthy lunch on the budges they have they should not provide lunch for general students at all. They should only provide for the students that normally qualify for reduced or free since they do need the food and that way they can afford to provide a more nutritious meal.
  • Crochetluvr
    Crochetluvr Posts: 3,144 Member
    I used to plead with my mother to let me buy lunch. But 35 cents was too much money so I brown bagged it most of the time. Tuna or cheese sandwiches. I did usually get a treat for dessert, though.

    But school lunches were all made from scratch. Pizza was on fridays (for the kids that couldn't eat meat), baked chicken. Turkey slices, spaghetti with meat sauce, grilled cheese sandwich, macaroni with stewed tomatoes and some other main dishes I don't remember. Veggies were a scoop of mashed potatoes or rice (with gravy) and green beans, peas, corn, spinach or mixed vegetables. Dessert was a square (about 2x2) of cake, a half cup of ice cream, or a cookie or fruit. Drink was milk or chocolate milk. The only thing offered every day was the ice cream and milk. Each day was a different menu and no got what you got for that day. And I would have LOVED to have eaten a school lunch every day.

    Do I think we were deprived because we didn't get a choice? Not at all. If someone didn't like the school lunch that day, the brown bagged it like me. We never starved...and overweight kids were the exception, that's for sure.
  • I am glad that someone is now holding the schools accountable for the nutrition they are serving our kids. Granted I do believe that all schools are under funded thus making the nutrition choices limited. My daughter is 7 and 'slim' for her age due to her being such a persnickety eater so I pack her lunch every day. There is the random day that she will want to eat out of the cafeteria and it is usually when they have chicken nuggets or pizza so this is rare when I let her do that also.

    I remember when I got to high school we finally had a salad bar to choose from instead of the meat like hamburger and the rubbery pizza slice. I say if it helps the kids then I am all for it, still need to put more funding into our school systems though!
  • staceypunk
    staceypunk Posts: 921 Member
    Unfortunately, the government regulations are are a good thing otherwise many schools would just do the cheapest thing. This is definitely a step in the right direction. I think ketchup is still considered a vegetable.

    from wikipedia:
    Reagan's FY1982 budget proposed $57 billion in spending cuts, with $27 billion of those cuts to entitlements. The budget was later modified and passed as the Gramm-Latta Budget which cut $1 billion from the school lunch program and tasked the USDA with coming up with a solution that maintained nutritional requirements for school lunches in spite of the lower funding.[1] On September 3, 1981, the Secretary of Agriculture proposed classifying ketchup and pickle relish as vegetables to save money on school lunch programs.
    In 2011, Congress passed a bill that barred the USDA from changing its nutritional guidelines for school lunches. The proposed changes[6] would have limited the amount of potatoes allowed in lunches, required more green vegetables, and declared a half-cup of tomato paste to count as a serving of vegetables, rather than the current standard of 2 tablespoons. This meant that the tomato paste in pizza could continue to be counted as a vegetable in school lunches. [7] The move resulted in widespread mockery, with headlines saying Congress declared pizza to be a vegetable. It was also criticized heavily, since the change was lobbied for by food companies such as ConAgra, and was a substantial blow to efforts to make school lunches healthier.[8]
  • Mama_Jag
    Mama_Jag Posts: 474 Member
    I don't think it matters much because kids are not forced to eat lunch at school. It's not a "nanny state" issue at all.
  • memories

    half a pint of milk per child each morning break

    minced beef and onions with dumplings carrots mashed potatoes and garden peas.

    and if your plate was empty apple pie and custard, if not bread and butter pudding.

    fridays always fish and chips.

    Those were the days

    Rickets, german measels, whooping cough, scarlet fever

    excellent times, sorry lost the thread!
  • myfitnessnmhoy
    myfitnessnmhoy Posts: 2,105 Member
    In an ideal world, the local school boards would be well funded and have plenty of money to be able to afford good, solid, wholesome food and hire employees who care enough to prepare it in a healthy manner.

    In the real world, local school boards are always facing shortages in funding and constantly need to cut corners (especially in a down economy and when faced with dwindling revenues because they can't have a candy-and-soda vending machine that used to rake in some serious dough), and hire whomever will do the largely thankless job of "lunch lady" for far less money than they could be making for a much more pleasant job.

    NOT having some sort of rational federal standard (and by that I do not mean "catsup and french fries are vegetables") means the schools will buy things that are very cheap to make and will sell well - which means you might as well send your kids to Mickey D's for lunch.

    Of course, nothing at all can force the kids to actually eat the food if they don't like it, and school boards still have to cut corners so they buy the cheapest stuff that meets the new standards. And that leads to yet more problems because while it's nutritious, it's hardly edible.

    So what do you want? Your kids fed food they won't eat that would be good for them if they did eat it, your kids fed food they will eat that you don't want them eating, the need to pack your own kids' lunches, or your taxes to go up? Pick one.

    Good luck getting the last one passed through referendum.

    Personally, my wife bags my kid's lunch. At least we know she's eating it, because we pack stuff she likes, and she knows full well that if she doesn't eat what we've prepared for her at school, any leftovers become her "I'M HUNGRY" snack when she gets home. A couple of rounds of that "I ate what I liked most and now I'm hungry, feed me junk food" -> "There's your lunch bag, it's not empty, finish your school lunch or no more food will be presented to you today." solved that nonsense in a jiffy.
  • VanessaGS
    VanessaGS Posts: 514 Member
    I think that growing kids should have whole milk simply because they are growing and need everything in it. It's really more about the portion size they need to control.
  • downinaggieland98
    downinaggieland98 Posts: 224 Member

    The school lunches aren't bad, necessarily, and I appreciate what the schools are doing to try to improve things but I don't like the idea of the government regulating it so much.

    Agree 100%.
  • electricmeow
    electricmeow Posts: 68 Member
    This is *definitely* a government issue. Its good to limit kids options to only healthy ones, but I'm scared when they don't allow kids to bring their own lunch without a doctors note. Meanwhile they are forcing these terrible GMO's and toxins as their only option. I had to cut down my own political rant. But I'm surprised I'm the only one concerned about this part. You all HAVE to watch King Corn, and other documentaries about Monsanto. Seriously. I'm not a political person, but we ALL should be worried!!!
  • I guess I'm the only one that thinks this is awful. Kids don't need more carbs to get through their day, protein and fat are not evil. Serving flavored milk (which is loaded with sugar) but only if it's fat free is a double whammy. The sugar burns off quickly and removing the fat that helps keep you satiated means the kids will starving 30 minutes after they eat. Additionally, forcing them to take a fruit or vegetable that they aren't going to eat isn't the answer. All that does is cost the school more in wasted food.

    I send my child with lunch almost every day because the lunches that are being served are so processed and full of junk that they're not worth the time it takes to eat them. Every time the government steps in and "improves" school lunch requirements, lunch quality goes down. Because my child has ADHD and we don't medicate him, I know that food is a huge part of helping control his behavior. I'm not willing to let the school decide what he eats. I bought him a thermos and I send him with leftovers, along with a container of whole milk almost every day. His lunches have high protein, some carbs and a fruit that he will eat. The only day he eats school lunch is pepperoni pizza day and I still send whole milk with him.

    This is just my opinion, my perspective and how I deal with my child.
  • Sabine_Stroehm
    Sabine_Stroehm Posts: 19,269 Member
    My thinking: if you buy a school lunch, then the school (and therefore the government) gets to decide what's in it.
    It's a step in the right direction, whether the science behind the choices is good.

    It's better than "pizza is a vegetable".
  • mathjulz
    mathjulz Posts: 5,526 Member
    My children's school has to do the same thing. I have mixed feelings too. My kids happen to love veggies and fruit, so that's not an issue for me. But, as a teacher, I've seen plenty of children dump half their tray, especially when they are required to take something they don't like. On the other hand, I remember how cruddy lunches were when I was in school, and at least it is something better.

    As far as the government getting involved - they aren't requiring your child to eat the school lunch, are they? There is the option of sending your own, even if that isn't what you want. On the other hand the school nutrition program (school lunch and breakfast) is greatly funded by the federal government, so it makes sense that they have regulations. Still, how much is too much, right?