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Parental monitoring of kids' school meals


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I will agree with the general consensus that the school lunch program, at least in my school district, is horrible. As stated earlier, it is full of pizza, chicken nuggets, etc. All highly processed and loaded with sodium and other undesirable ingredients.

I understand the concept of the schools offering what they know kids will eat and keeping within a district's budget. In this day of fast food dinners and dinner out of a box in a majority of busy households, it's no wonder that our children want to eat this kind of stuff. Fiance and I both work full time and we still manage to put a healthy meal on the table every night. There are some weekend nights when the kids get to pick what's for dinner. They can pick convenience foods if they wish as they consider it a special treat. Granted, they are no angels and I know they will make some bad food choices if given the chance.

They do, however, want a bag lunch at least 3 out of 5 school days because they say most of the lunches at school are gross. They are ages 10 and 14 and wonder why their school doesn't have a salad bar like the high school does.

Now, not to rant; but when I was in school, all lunches served by the school had to be made from scratch. It seems that now, the kitchen will make it only if it's frozen or already put together and can be put into an oven or microwaved (I have a family member who works for the school). I hope this is not true of all schools now, but it is sorely evident in my children's. :angry:

Someday the power of human stupidity will be harnessed and the energy crisis will be over.
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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!

Actually, I wish my 6-year-old had more time to finish her food, instead of having to wolf it down so that the whole table can go out for recess.

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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I know someone who works in the Schools here as a lunch cooridinator. When I asked her why they serve so much processed crap, rather than good healthy food, she replied that the processed crap is cheaper and their budgets are so low it's all they can afford. Which begs two questions: 1) Why is processed junk cheaper than natural, non-processed real food - it doesn't make any sense when you think about it, and 2) this is the same school system that spent $5million on a new football stadium in the rich area of town, they couldn't spent even a little bit of that money on healthy food for the kids?? It's insane.

I don't have children, but if I did, I would try my best to send them to school with a packed lunch every day. The thought of these kids eating massive amounts of trans fats, sodium, MSG, and preservatives that are present in processed foods makes my skin crawl.

In a way, I think the card "system mentioned in the original post is kind of a good idea - at least parents have some sort of control while the kids are at school, but it is fixing a symptom, rather than going after the larger problem.

-Sounds awfully rich!

-It is! That's why I serve it with ice cream to cut the sweetness!

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I will agree with the general consensus that the school lunch program, at least in my school district, is horrible.  As stated earlier, it is full of pizza, chicken nuggets, etc.  All highly processed and loaded with sodium and other undesirable ingredients.

I understand the concept of the schools offering what they know kids will eat and keeping within a district's budget.  In this day of fast food dinners and dinner out of a box in a majority of busy households, it's no wonder that our children want to eat this kind of stuff.  Fiance and I both work full time and we still manage to put a healthy meal on the table every night.  There are some weekend nights when the kids get to pick what's for dinner.  They can pick convenience foods if they wish as they consider it a special treat.  Granted, they are no angels and I know they will make some bad food choices if given the chance.

They do, however, want a bag lunch at least 3 out of 5 school days because they say most of the lunches at school are gross.  They are ages 10 and 14 and wonder why their school doesn't have a salad bar like the high school does.

Now, not to rant; but when I was in school, all lunches served by the school had to be made from scratch.  It seems that now, the kitchen will make it only if it's frozen or already put together and can be put into an oven or microwaved (I have a family member who works for the school).  I hope this is not true of all schools now, but it is sorely evident in my children's. :angry:

There is another thread somewhere about why school districts serve the food they serve. When I have more time I'll try to find it and link it. Basically the school food programs operate under or in conjunction with the USDA commodities program (this is for free and reduced lunch meals, which applies to most schools). Their hands are tied somewhat, but I am sure there is a way to supplement what they get from the government. Why can't they have a food boosters club the way they have baseball boosters?

Oh, wait, I know - it's because hardly anyone cares.

Love your sig line BTW.

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while I agree with you.

My idea is easier and cheaper to implement.

:smile:

Cheaper in the short term, yes. But is it really cheaper in the long run? :smile:

I would think so.

IMOP--if we get kids exercising more the food issues are still there--we do need to provide and encourage healthy eating--but they will be lessened somewhat.

No matter what one eats exercise is a good thing.

The debate rages on about what exactly we should feed kids--what is healthy and what is not--witness the threads here at eGullet.

After we agree on those things then how do we get kids to eat the food.

I still think if kids are busy with physical activity then they will be less concerned with eating and will eat less and--whatever they eat they will be burning a lot more calories than they presently do.

Kids are pretty resourceful and even with healthy meals at school --they will still eat junk foods--a major coup would be to get kids to eat smaller portions and cut out the snacks in front of the TV. Not much schools can do here.

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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!

Actually, I wish my 6-year-old had more time to finish her food, instead of having to wolf it down so that the whole table can go out for recess.

But that's sort of my point.

Kids should be eating less ---exercising more.

I think a healthy snack followed by lots of exercise is better than a big lunch.

or let them have a snack--healthy of course after recess.

I don't know--maybe this makes sense maybe not.

In the end--parents need to be actively involved and making sure kids havea chance to develop healthy eating habits and understand moderation and consequences.

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I still think if kids are busy with physical activity then they will be less concerned with eating and will eat less and--whatever they eat they will be burning a lot more calories than they presently do.

JohnL, do you have children? :blink: Both of my children are very very slim, fairly active, and eat six times a day, three meals and three small snacks. They have done this since they were able to eat solid food. Making them do without meals in order to exercise most assuredly does not mean they think less about eating.

Eliminating mealtime is not going to reduce the problem of childhood obesity. As I said upthread, I wish my daughter had more time to eat her lunch, rather than less. Eating to quickly and overeating often go hand in hand.

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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I still think if kids are busy with physical activity then they will be less concerned with eating and will eat less and--whatever they eat they will be burning a lot more calories than they presently do.

JohnL, do you have children? :blink: Both of my children are very very slim, fairly active, and eat six times a day, three meals and three small snacks. They have done this since they were able to eat solid food. Making them do without meals in order to exercise most assuredly does not mean they think less about eating.

Eliminating mealtime is not going to reduce the problem of childhood obesity. As I said upthread, I wish my daughter had more time to eat her lunch, rather than less. Eating to quickly and overeating often go hand in hand.

Everyone knows what happens when you start skipping meals. Your body will eventually go into preservation mode; turning everything you eat into some type of fat. To expect children to have to skip a meal and then eat responsibly at the next meal is asking alot of them. It is then that bad food choices are made because EVERYTHING in their eyes is good for them!

Yes, more exercise is a good thing, especially when the school reduces PE down to two days a week because of budget cuts. Once winter finally leaves us, we will once again be biking or walking at least 3 times a week with our kids and horseback riding on the weekends. Gets us and the horses back in shape :laugh:

Someday the power of human stupidity will be harnessed and the energy crisis will be over.
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JohnL, do you have children?  :blink:  Both of my children are very very slim, fairly active, and eat six times a day, three meals and three small snacks.  They have done this since they were able to eat solid food.  Making them do without meals in order to exercise most assuredly does not mean they think less about eating.

Eliminating mealtime is not going to reduce the problem of childhood obesity.  As I said upthread, I wish my daughter had more time to eat her lunch, rather than less.  Eating to quickly and overeating often go hand in hand.

Heather, we moved almost two years ago. In the former school district, the kids had 15 minutes for lunch. From time of standing in line until bussing trays. New school disctrict, a full 35 minutes. My kids don't eat as hastily at dinner now, which is a good thing.

For kids, yes to lots of little meals. They need it. Now that I'm home days, I find myself slipping into the pattern of several small "meals" over the course of the day and I feel more energetic.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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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 ...

I wanted to add that our county has a system like this and it's very popular. It eliminates bullies stealing other kid's lunch money, and no one knows which children are getting a free lunch.

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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I had very strict parents who acually talked to my lunch ladies when I was a kid....um humiliating. If all the parents did it, it might not be so bad, but sounds like another way to ostracise some kids....the fat ones, especially....this plan sounds really emotionally careless. It would be nice for kids with allergies, but sill, potentially insulating.

does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

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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!

Actually, I wish my 6-year-old had more time to finish her food, instead of having to wolf it down so that the whole table can go out for recess.

The situation is the same at my daughter's school. At lunchtime, the kids get pushed out of the classroom after about fifteen minutes. This only encourages kids to shovel food down and treat it like a fast food snack, rather than a meal. And, of course, that only encourages kids to shovel in more calories, rather than eating until you are full.

JohnL, you cannot separate exercise from diet, they are both parts of the same equation. However, I agree with you that I'd much rather see school cafeterias eliminated if they only serve junk.

Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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I still think if kids are busy with physical activity then they will be less concerned with eating and will eat less and--whatever they eat they will be burning a lot more calories than they presently do.

Sorry, but the reality is that physically active kids will generally eat more in order to take in enough calories to keep up with calories burned. Anybody who exercises on a regular basis knows this. Furthermore, kids should be "concerened with eating" and taking an active interest in food, rather than treating it as mere fuel. Although the main onus should be on parents to teach this to their children.

Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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I'm shocked that there are schools with 15-minute lunches now. What the Hell is that? Everyone needs some time to unwind and socialize in the middle of the day. For many kids, lunch may be their favorite period, and don't underestimate the developmental importance of the social interactions that go on during that period. On no account should lunch be shorter than 30 minutes, and I think I got 40-45 minutes when I was in elementary and high school. Recess should also be at least 30 minutes long, every day. When I was in 8th grade, I went to a ridiculously academically rigorous private school (Rudolph Steiner School on Manhattan's Upper East Side), and I just loved their long recess, which was either 50 minutes or an hour. It was by far my favorite thing about that school. We hung out in Central Park, playing soccer, or in snowy weather running up the hill and riding down on upturned frisbees. In between times, we walked or ran around, talked, and enjoyed the open air. That time was obviously not at the expense of serious classwork, so what are these [uncharitable name deleted] thinking?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I'm shocked that there are schools with 15-minute lunches now. What the Hell is that?

Pan, I am so with you, and I feel as if I grew up on a different planet.

I grew up in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec in the late fifties and sixties. There was no "Public school" system for the majority French speaking/Catholic kids: they attended, free, the school at their parish church, or if their parents had bucks, private school at the Seminaire St. Joseph (Jesuit) or various girl private convent schools. I don't know what the good sisters and brothers gave them for lunch, but I bet it was good.

We Anglo protestants had: an hour and a half for lunch. The same buses that took us to school were waiting to trundle us home for lunch, and to return us to school from our regular stops after lunch. Usually, my father would pick us up, drive us home, and we'd all have a family home-cooked meal. There was enough time left over for Daddy to have a "head sandwich" --- a nap on the sofa cradled by two cushions, and for us kids to run around in the park next door, or read a chapter of Thomas Mann, Louisa May Alcott, or Hornblower.l

It wasn't a huge town, geographically, which helped. And we didn't get out of school until 3:45. But talk about a perfect system.

I feel very foreign and very old.

Edited to add: If you couldn't go home for lunch, there was a lunchroom where you could take a brown bag lunch. The school nurse poured glasses of milk, gratis.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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I'm shocked that there are schools with 15-minute lunches now. What the Hell is that?

If you're referring to my post, I'm saying that my 7-year old gets pushed out of the classroom after around 15 minutes, as long as weather permits. She has the rest of her lunch period to spend outside.

Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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I still think if kids are busy with physical activity then they will be less concerned with eating and will eat less and--whatever they eat they will be burning a lot more calories than they presently do.

Sorry, but the reality is that physically active kids will generally eat more in order to take in enough calories to keep up with calories burned. Anybody who exercises on a regular basis knows this. Furthermore, kids should be "concerened with eating" and taking an active interest in food, rather than treating it as mere fuel. Although the main onus should be on parents to teach this to their children.

You all seem to be missing the point I am trying to make!

(probably my lack of clarity at fault here). :wacko:

First--i started thinking about this when I was watching the documentary:

"Supersize me" by Morgan Spurlock.

There is a scene where he interviews two inner city kids (teens actually) who are thin and athletic looking. They admit that they eat fast food all the time.

I am not minimizing the importance of healthy food intake--I am trying to put all this in perspective.

I have not seen many kids who are physically active that are obese.

I think we would all agree that exercise is very important.

The fact is people who exercise regularly tend to have more regimen in their lives--they are not sitting around a lot.

I believe a lot of us are obsessive about feeding kids and what kids eat (that may be okay) but the kids who have weight and health problems also have bad eating habits and lives that are out of balance.

Just providing a healthy school lunch is a costly and IMOP-often futile solution. Kids will eat what they want to eat--I recall using the milk carton to stuff my "healthy food into to avoid the lunchroom police who examined every kid's tray before we could go out to the playground.

(on the way home we stooped for pizza and black and white cookies).

were we fat?--no we were also constantly playing rigorous games and various sports.

we were allowed two hours of TV a night maximum and were not allowed to eat in front of the TV set.

Too many kids are given food for the wrong reasons--crying?--here have a cookie!

We need to engender discipline in kids lives--yes absolutely important to have healthy food in schools and even more important education about nutrition etc. But we are fighting a losing battle if we do not make sure kids get lots of physical activity and have a healthy attitude/habits toward eating.

Moderation is key and understanding that there are consequences to eating a twinkie--it is about perspective!

I am not disagreeing with most of what is being said here.

I am just looking at a bigger picture.

:smile:

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