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Time to junk the junk food in schools

Submitted by on Sunday, 1 June 2008 No Comment

Originally published June 28, 2007, thehive.modbee.com

I did a triple-take when I glanced at a school lunch menu hanging on the fridge at a friend’s house a few months back.

Monday, chicken nuggets and fries. Tuesday, pizza. Wednesday, grilled cheese and fries. Thursday, cheeseburger and fries. Friday, super nachos.

What the heck? Weren’t we at least two years down the road on the “healthy school lunches” kick? Obviously, some districts weren’t getting the message.

That’s why I’m glad the Legislature stepped in with fairly strict new guidelines that become law Sunday. Obviously, some districts needed help getting the message.

Call it micromanagement, call it the nanny state, call it whatever you want. The bottom line for me is, we have an obesity epidemic in this country, with adult-onset diabetes showing up in grade schools. Something had to be done.

School food service officials no doubt would defend that menu. I’m sure it was low-fat cheese grilled on wheat bread. I’m sure they’d say finances forced those offererings on them, because they have to serve what kids will eat. I’m still not buying it. No matter how you dress it up, no matter how you try to make that menu healthy, it’s still junk.

And it’s not as if my guys never eat junk. We have pizza once a week, and the occasional nugget – homemade with oven fries. They even (gasp!) eat sweets and chips once in a while, because I believe in teaching moderation. Besides that, let’s be practical. Complete junk-food bans won’t work. Unless you keep your kids locked in a closet, they’re going to learn that it exists eventually, and that which is banned becomes all the more attractive.

Most days, though, I put a lot of time and effort into serving balanced meals.

All right, I’m lying. Sometimes, I put little or no effort into it. Tonight, we had beef roasted in a Reynold’s bag – as a co-worker said recently, you could cook your sandal in one and it’d turn out great – baked potatoes, corn on the cob, strawberries and whole-wheat bread. The meat and potatoes were in the oven the night before while I blogged. I cooked the corn after we got home.

Little Guy gobbled it. Big Guy, not so much, though he’ll always eat strawberries and bread. He’ll at least take a nibblet of the meat and potatoes now without getting all dramatic. The rest he’ll get to eventually – maybe by the time he’s 40 – if he keeps seeing healthy food.

I expect the guys to see the same at school. Schools shouldn’t teach our kids that super nachos are lunch.

Copyright 2007 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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