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Parental monitoring of kids' school meals


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article from CNN

Primero Food Service Solutions, allows parents to set up prepaid lunch accounts so children don't have to carry money ... It also shows the cashier any food allergies or parent-set diet restrictions for his or her account, and the student is not allowed to buy an offending item. Parents also can go online to track their child's eating habits and make changes. ...programs that allow parents to say what their kids can or can't eat are a more recent development ... School officials and nutrition experts say this type of monitoring program could help tackle child obesity.

If you are a parent, this might make for some interesting reading ... and my question is, simply put: "how can a child learn to make choices if the parent is doing that for him/her?"

Parents go online to track what their kids eat at lunchtime? I don't know but it changes the responsibility to the parent this way, no?

When he punches in his code for the prepaid account his parents set up, a warning sounds: "This student has a food restriction." Back goes the brownie as the cashier reminds him that his parents have declared all desserts off-limits.
A warning sounds? Like a deep voice saying "step away from the brownie and no one will get hurt!" :hmmm:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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As someone who runs a school, I read this and thought, "Huh: that'd be a lot easier for many people, particularly parents and schools that have children with serious food allergies." I had to lock up a peanut butter sandwich today, for example. Sometimes you don't want kids making choices....

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Sometimes you don't want kids making choices....

So how will they learn to make choices? and at what age?

You are running a school and that puts you in a somewhat different place ... but I know what you mean ...

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Sometimes you don't want kids making choices....

So how will they learn to make choices? and at what age?

You are running a school and that puts you in a somewhat different place ... but I know what you mean ...

As a former teenager and current parent of two, I've got no problem with something like this. Let them choose to do their dang homework, clean their room or get a job. I'll dictate lunch, thanks.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I don't really have a problem with it either. Kids do have to learn to make good choices, but we all understand that sometimes parents have to be able to veto bad choices ("Sorry, no Count Chocula for dinner!"), and this system sounds like way to do that a little bit when the kids are not with them.

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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Well, at present I make lunches for my five and seven year old sons. I do take into account their preferences, but in the end what goes in is my choice - and often my choices are far healthier than what they would choose, given their own devices. I have no problem at all with this. Teaching healthy food choice is something that happens as a process as they grow, but the ability to make good food choices out of cafeteria fare would be tricky for most adults, let alone small children.

Personally, I wish the tide would swing back towards having children bring their own lunches instead of buying at school. Though I guess that just opens them up to Lunchables and cold fast food, so perhaps there really is no better answer. Meanwhile, I'll keep packing whole wheat, carrots, water, and home baked muffins and know that the boys eat pretty well while I'm not there.

Kathy

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. - Harriet Van Horne

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Why not "limit" their choices to food that is healthier? Why are their choices questionable. A hungry child will eat healthy if thats all there is to choose from. Who has the food service contract for your school? Is profit thier goal? Hmmmm...

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Well, thinking back upon my own school lunch days, and after checking with my kids, it probably won't make any difference at all.

They trade. They get the plate and eat what they want and throw away the rest. Sometimes they throw the lunch you packed them into the garbage, and skip lunch. Just because mom and dad bought that lunch, doesn't mean they eat it.

If they just offered a good, well rounded, nutritionally sound lunch to everybody and at all times, Mom and Dad wouldn't have to hurt their heads keeping track of the kids intake. If the kid is hungry, and he or she will be if they get sufficient exercise, the kid will at least try what is offered.

I have a problem with some of the shift of responsibility for children that are in their charge, by school administration.

Also, Mom and Dad have to let go sometime. Going to school is one of those learning experiences that kids go through while transitioning from childhood to adulthood.

MOO

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Why not "limit" their choices to food that is healthier? Why are their choices questionable. A hungry child will eat healthy if thats all there is to choose from. Who has the food service contract for your school? Is profit thier goal? Hmmmm...

Exactly. What are the chicken nuggets, fried OR baked, doing in the lunch line as an offering?

Everybody here knows it is just saline and chicken "parts." Just check out any Tyson plant. They go in chickens, and come out "nuggets" of all the unholy things to do to a perfectly good chicken.

And if that brownie is so evil, why offer it in the first place to these "innocent" young pucks?

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There honestly are few if any healthy choices for children who eat at the cafeteria at my son's school. Occasionally there is fresh fruit, and once a week or so there is salad of some kind. Otherwise, the choices are typically something with lots of cheese, tater tots, chocolate milk, fried foods, and something sweet like pudding. There's good reason why I pack my son's lunch - the alternative is far from acceptable in my eyes.

Kathy

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. - Harriet Van Horne

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[snippity]  Kids do have to learn to make good choices, but we all understand that sometimes parents have to be able to veto bad choices [snip snip ...]

What he said.

When my sons were little, they refused school food so I packed their lunches. I was very happy to learn that in every school they attended, "swapping" was forbidden. Yeah, sure, the kids found a way around it but they still understood our expectations and decisions, and I was amazed at how they respected it (usually - they are normal, yanno!).

Kids have an awful lot of choices these days, don't ya think?

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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Kids have an awful lot of choices these days, don't ya think?

Yes they do! :biggrin:

I loved my 12 years at Catholic school because I was spared the daily decision of what clothes to wear.

My children have no choice what so ever in their lunches, they eat the same food that ever child in the city of Yokohama eats.

Here is a typical meal

i8594.jpg

salad of bean sprouts and cucumber with a peanut dressing, mabo-nasu (eggplant cooked in the style of mabodofu) with the addition of green peppers and bamboo shoots, sprouted rice with sesame-salt topping and milk

I can't rave enough about the lunch system in Japan, the children really enjoy it. My oldest was a very pickier eater and refused to try things. In her first year of elementary school she would come home and say, "Today I tried ~~, andI liked it". Now at the age of 10 she pretty much eats anything.

I do think that new system with the buzzer going off, would be quite embarrassing. I don't think I could ban my children from eating foods, hell I get cravings for brownies too!

I wish some of these parents would remember that education should always begin at home though..

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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That Japanese school lunch looks so good! My little guy's not school-age yet, but I see the school lunch menus in the local paper and they make me shudder. Chicken nuggets, hot dogs, pizza, tacos. Sodium-laden, processed crap. The stuff is scary. I took a bag lunch to school and my son will too.

I do think this kind of monitoring can go too far; I remember a previous thread on a similar program, with an article quoting a mother alarmed because her daughter was buying a bottle of juice every day, and you know that's just 150 calories she doesn't need. As though juice were crack or something. I bet that kid ends up with an eating disorder.

"There is nothing like a good tomato sandwich now and then."

-Harriet M. Welsch

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How old are these kids? Its fine for 7-year olds but if I were my 12-year old self I'd be rolling my eyes and handing my friend-with-easier-parents my cash to buy me the candy bar. It would be nicer if the school didn't sell brownies, period. It makes a lot of sense for allergies though.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Kids have an awful lot of choices these days, don't ya think?

My children have no choice what so ever in their lunches, they eat the same food that ever child in the city of Yokohama eats.

Here is a typical meal

i8594.jpg

salad of bean sprouts and cucumber with a peanut dressing, mabo-nasu (eggplant cooked in the style of mabodofu) with the addition of green peppers and bamboo shoots, sprouted rice with sesame-salt topping and milk

I can't rave enough about the lunch system in Japan, the children really enjoy it. My oldest was a very pickier eater and refused to try things. In her first year of elementary school she would come home and say, "Today I tried ~~, andI liked it". Now at the age of 10 she pretty much eats anything.

I do think that new system with the buzzer going off, would be quite embarrassing. I don't think I could ban my children from eating foods, hell I get cravings for brownies too!

I wish some of these parents would remember that education should always begin at home though..

Wow!!! What a lunch!

This is an amazing program! National? I know it's hard to generalize, but do you know if the meals in every city are this wonderful?

I hope cute offerings in children's Bento boxes are not a thing of the past, though I imagine there are a lot of mothers who feel relieved from the pressure of creating interesting new edible critters on a daily basis.

P.S. I agree with you about the brownies, too.

Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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I have a radical idea

let's get rid of all the school cafeterias.

let's get em out on the playground and exercising!

ok I am being a bit facetious here but the real problem in most cases is not food--it is exercise.

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Wow!!!  What a lunch!

This is an amazing program!  National?  I know it's hard to generalize, but do you know if the meals in every city are this wonderful?

I hope cute offerings in children's Bento boxes are not a thing of the past, though I imagine there are a lot of mothers who feel relieved from the pressure of creating interesting new edible critters on a daily basis.

Yes, it is a national program for all public elementary schools, private schools usually require a bento lunch.

They vary a bit by city to city, but they usually include a focus on local products. For example felloe eGullet member Hiroyuki lives in Niigata, a famous rice producing area, and his schools lunches offer rice almost daily while the schools in Yokohama only have rice 2 to 3 times a week.

The meals are not free, we pay about $30 a month per child but they could be eating much worse food for even more money.

I know a lot of parents in the US who often say "oh my kid would never eat such and such" but you know what? Maybe if they were given a chance to try it they might like it. The Japanese lunch is also an example of where peer pressure can be a good thing, if everyone else in your class in eating that eggplant and pepper dish you don't want to be the only one who didn't, do you? :biggrin:

There are more pictures and more discussion in the Japanese lunch thread

and for those that missed it, here is a photo essay I did on Japanese school lunches

One of the most wonderful aspects about the Jaapnese school lunches is not the food but the fact that the children are responsible for it. There is no cafeteria here, the children take turns going down to the kitchen and bringing the food back to their rooms, they also serve it to each other and then clean up afterwards. Everyone in the school eats the same food even the teachers and principal.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Parents go online to track what their kids eat at lunchtime? I don't know but it changes the responsibility to the parent this way, no?

I have zero problems with this as a parent, in the same way that I think school cafeterias (and fund-raising lunch programs) should restrict their choices to healthier, more adventurous foods.

Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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Parents go online to track what their kids eat at lunchtime? I don't know but it changes the responsibility to the parent this way, no?

I have zero problems with this as a parent, in the same way that I think school cafeterias (and fund-raising lunch programs) should restrict their choices to healthier, more adventurous foods.

I just believe that we are asking way too much of our schools.

the real problem is kids are not exercising enough.

someone who is engaged in physical activity is simply not eating as much as someone who is sedentary.

The problem is not so much what kids are eating in schools (healthy or not so healthy food)

but the fact that they don't exercise and when not in school are sitting in front of a TV set or gameboy or whatever, and guess what?!----eating!

In fact--if kids were engaged in physical activity more--the food and eating problems would be lessened--they would be burning off what calories they were taking in.

Unfortunately physical education--aka "Gym class" has been severely de-emphasized in our schools.

I say--give kids a light snack (ok a healthy snack) and get them out on the playground!

Schools are not health food restaurants (or any other kind of restaurant).

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Parents go online to track what their kids eat at lunchtime? I don't know but it changes the responsibility to the parent this way, no?

I have zero problems with this as a parent, in the same way that I think school cafeterias (and fund-raising lunch programs) should restrict their choices to healthier, more adventurous foods.

I just believe that we are asking way too much of our schools.

the real problem is kids are not exercising enough.

someone who is engaged in physical activity is simply not eating as much as someone who is sedentary.

The problem is not so much what kids are eating in schools (healthy or not so healthy food)

but the fact that they don't exercise and when not in school are sitting in front of a TV set or gameboy or whatever, and guess what?!----eating!

In fact--if kids were engaged in physical activity more--the food and eating problems would be lessened--they would be burning off what calories they were taking in.

Unfortunately physical education--aka "Gym class" has been severely de-emphasized in our schools.

I say--give kids a light snack (ok a healthy snack) and get them out on the playground!

Schools are not health food restaurants (or any other kind of restaurant).

While I agree that exercise is of utmost importance, I do think that schools should set an example with the food that is served. Healthy habits are not learned when the daily menu is pizza, burgers and chicken nuggets. We are all paying for it so why not use it as a positive learning experience? I do not at all think this is asking too much of the schools. There are other areas where we DO ask too much from them, but to me this is not one of them.

The fact is that many kids who eat school lunches may not get anything else to eat, or may get even worse food at home. Why not have healthy items for them at least one meal a day? It certainly couldn't hurt.

To me it's not just a question of burning all the calories consumed, it is why not have calories of substance and nutrition rather than crap?

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While I agree that exercise is of utmost importance, I do think that schools should set an example with the food that is served. Healthy habits are not learned when the daily menu is pizza, burgers and chicken nuggets. We are all paying for it so why not use it as a positive learning experience? I do not at all think this is asking too much of the schools. There are other areas where we DO ask too much from them, but to me this is not one of them.

The fact is that many kids who eat school lunches may not get anything else to eat, or may get even worse food at home. Why not have healthy items for them at least one meal a day? It certainly couldn't hurt.

To me it's not just a question of burning all the calories consumed, it is why not have calories of substance and nutrition rather than crap?

while I agree with you.

My idea is easier and cheaper to implement.

:smile:

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