Wednesday, February 15, 2012

You've got chicken breath!!!

20111025-FNS-RBN-School Lunch

Earlier today a friend shared a news link on Facebook coming out of North Carolina that's a bit on the bizarre side.

At West Hoke Elementary School, in Raeford, they are part of a state program that monitors student's lunches, and if they decide it's not a fully rounded meal they can substitute the student's lunch with what is being offered at the school that day. This prevents a parent from slapping a Twinkie and can of Coke in a brown paper sack, and calling that lunch, as Jani Kozlowski said. Kozlowski is a policy manager for the state's Division of Child Development.

You know, that makes perfectly good sense. Childhood is when the brain is developed, and good nutrition is paramount to keep the human computer fully functional.

Unfortunately, some adult human computer must've blown a fuse because Mommy didn't put in a Twinkie and Coke. Nope. The homemade lunch included A turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips and apple juice.

Honestly, I cannot see what's wrong with that. And apparently officials cannot explain it either, but the principal at the school said they would investigate.

The inspection is to make sure that any lunch brought from home meet USDA guidelines. This includes one serving of meat, one serving of milk, one serving of grain, and two servings of fruit or vegetables.

Looking over what Mommy had packed that day, and comparing it to the USDA guidelines: Turkey would be meat, cheese would be dairy, bread would be grain and the banana and juice would be fruit. Strangely, Kozlowski told the Carolina Journal reporter the lunch had to include a fruit OR a vegetable, but NOT both. Ignoring the potato chips for a moment, what is more illogical than saying you can have your banana, but don't drink that apple juice, or vice versa. A four-year-old is going to think there's something wrong with one of them.The more natural fruits and vegetables the child gets, the better!

I have to wonder what happens with a student from a Vegan or vegetarian home? Would the lunch person have a clue just what tofu is made of and how much protein it has, or would they be sending that student home with "chicken" breath?

Now, let's look at what the student was given to eat as a healthy alternative. Chicken Nuggets, milk and cooked vegetables (I saw an article earlier with a picture, but cannot find it now that I'm looking for it). I suppose the chicken nuggets filled both the grain (from breading) and meat (from chicken) for the guidelines? Assuming they were not deep fat fried (and that's a BIG assumption on food from the Deep (fat fried) South, the breading was probably loaded with salt and fats. Tastes good, but is it really nutritious? As for the vegetables? I can remember the vegetables we had at the university cafeteria. Generally way over cooked, or mushy from sitting under a heat lamp, in water, for too long. People that study nutrition will tell you that when you cook vegetables they usually loose most of the natural goodness that Mother Nature put in them. Granted, most students won't eat raw carrots, celery and snow peas, but they will certainly eat apples, pears and other things that can be served naturally. (I still won't eat raw carrots and celery! Hate the taste. But, I will eat raw cauliflower. Go figure!)

The final insult to Mommy in all of this was that she didn't get a note the day of the incident, and had to learn about it when her daughter brought her original lunch home untouched, and asked her about it. However, the school DID find it necessary to send home a bill for $1.25 for the cost of the replacement lunch that mostly ended up in the garbage because the child wouldn't eat it.

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School lunch programs around the country are getting a bad reputation, and in many circumstances, rightfully so. Speed is the key when you have to serve hundreds of meals in a short amount of time, and so precooking, freezing, and then deep fat frying are the methods of choice. Do you recall what the most popular offerings were when you were a child? For us it was pizza, burgers and fries, Sloppy Joes, and tacos, laden with fat and salt. Made it taste really good, but not really good for you.

British chef Jamie Oliver decided he would try and do something to improve on things. Season One of  Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution was shot in Huntington, WVA. Eager for bigger and bolder things, Season Two moved out west to a Carson, CA school. His reality TV show revolved around his triumphs (and frustrations) throughout the whole thing. Students loved what he had to offer and started flocking to his alternative.

That lasted only a few days before the school district clamped down on the school, and booted him off campus, claiming he didn't submit a proposal to the Los Angeles Unified School District.

PLEASE!! Don't tell me he just showed up, took over cafeteria space and started giving away his food. Someone approved him to be there. My guess is the company that was contracted was embarrassed by the negative publicity and so complained to the right people to get him kicked off. That's why you didn't spend any time looking at what he had to offer (his expertise) and what his customers (the students) had to say about the product.

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This whole thing reminds me back to when I was in high school. Albany High had both a cafeteria and a snack bar. I never ate in the cafeteria, nor did I frequent the snack bar like many of my classmates did.

I seem to remember that sometime in my junior or senior year they talked about closing the cafeteria, but keeping the snack bar open because it was a money making proposition. Don't honestly remember how long that lasted, if at all. Granted, this was before any substantial guidelines were developed, but it was certainly a warped way of looking at things. Of course, students were going to buy sugar-laden drinks and fries over whatever was being offered.

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Preschooler's Homemade Lunch Replaced with Cafeteria "Nuggets." February 15, 2012.

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