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The Meat Mandate

September 3, 2015

Facebook is fun this time of year. You get to see all the pictures of kids going off to their first day of school. I have a fading memory about my father asking me one year to write down my feelings about heading into fourth grade.

The idea was that I would never get to do this over again. But even by fourth grade, I realized that it was the same old drill. Year in, and year out. I had no feelings about going into fourth grade. Maybe I made something up just to get an answer down on the paper. If I did, I was faking it. However, I still remember that it felt just like going into third grade. Which felt just like going into second grade.

There are some things I get wrapped up in, and which can bring me great excitement. But the first day of school was never one of them.

As we prepare for the launch of the children’s academic calendar, I got the kids haircuts, picked up some new shoes, and braved the stores for school supplies. I’m relatively sure that everyone has what they need to begin the year.

But I just took a peek at the school’s lunch calendar, and now I want to weep for the future.

It just hurts to look at it. I can’t even bring myself to say the words on the menu. It barely resembles food. And if you see the food in person, it looks even worse than it sounds. So instead of writing the words, I’m just going to copy and paste them.


Day One
Italian Dunkers (2-1 oz WW Bread Sticks w/2 oz LS Spaghetti Sauce) & 4 RF Mozzarella Sticks
(2 Protein & 2 Starch)
or
WG Fresh Pizza
(2 Protein & 1 ½ Starch)

½ c Vegetables (may take 2)
Fresh Baby Carrots
½ c Steamed Broccoli

½ c Fruit (may take 2)
Fresh Orange Wedges
Fresh Banana
3 Varieties of Asst. Canned/Frozen Fruits

Day Two
Baked Nachos w/ 2 oz Spicy Meat, 2 oz Melted Cheddar Cheese
(2 Protein & 2 Starch)
or
Popcorn Chicken Served in a Bag w/1 PC BBQ Sauce
(2 Protein & 2 Starch)
or
RS Hot Dog on WW Bun Served w/ 2 PC’s Ketchup
(2 Protein & 2 Starch)

½ c Vegetables (may take 2)
Fresh Baby Carrots
Fresh Cucumber Slices
½ c Steamed Carrots

½ c Fruit (may take 2)
Fresh Grapes
3 Varieties of Asst. Canned/Frozen Fruits

Day Three
WG RS Turkey Corn Dogs
(2 Protein & 2 Starch)
or
WG Fresh Pizza
(2 Protein & 1 ½ Starch)
or
2 Bosco Sticks served w/ ⅓ c Marinara Sauce
(2 Protein & 2 Starch)

½ c Vegetables (may take 2)
Fresh Baby Carrots
½ c Steamed Corn

½ c Fruit (may take 2)
Fresh Watermelon
Fresh Orange Wedges
3 Varieties of Asst. Canned/Frozen Fruits

Day Four
1/2 c WG Rotini w/ 1/4 c Cheese Sauce Over Top Served w/ 1 Cut Up Hot Dog
or
Breaded Chicken Pattie Served on a WW Bun Served w/ 2 PC’s Ketchup
(2 Protein & 2 Starch)
or
WG Mini Maple Pancakes Served w/Chicken Sausage
(1 Protein & 2 Starch)

½ c Vegetables (may take 2)
Assorted Fresh Vegetables
½ c Vegetarian Beans

½ c Fruit (may take 2)
Assorted Fresh Fruit
3 Varieties of Asst. Canned/Frozen Fruits

The Bagel Option: Every Day
2 oz WG Bagel 2 PC’s Margarine or 1 PC Cream Cheese and 2 oz cup of Peanut Butter
4 oz Yogurt

May Choose:
2 Fruits
2 Vegetables
8 oz Milk

The Bagged Lunch Option: Every Other Day
4 oz Yogurt
1 oz Mozzarella Stick
1 Pkg of WG Graham Crackers

May Choose:
2 Fruits
2 Vegetables
8 oz Milk

The PB&J Option: Every Other Day 
PB & Jelly Jamwich

May Choose:
2 Fruits
2 Vegetables
8 oz Milk


Let’s just look at this a moment.

  • Hot dogs are served on 75% of the days
  • Pizza is available 50% of the time
  • There is no vegetable component to the main part of the meal
  • Baby carrots are the vegetable every day but one
  • Half of the time there is no hot vegetarian option

I wish the ingredients were made readily available for parents to investigate. That “Breaded Chicken Pattie” sounds like it may have one or two more ingredients than just chicken and breadcrumbs.

More than anything, it’s the meat that sketches me out. But I’m learning to relax, so I’ve been letting the kids buy school lunches once or maybe twice a week. However, there is a rule. You can buy the lunches, you can even drink the chocolate milk. The only thing I don’t want you to eat is the meat.

The local school district is getting more families moving here from around the world. And that’s amazing. But last spring I went to a school function where a girl asked if there was any vegetarian option at a class picnic, and she was pointed to the potato chips and watermelon.

Getting smarter about vegetarian food would seem to solve a lot of the problems vexing the school lunch program. Honestly, I’m just too frustrated to talk about it in a meaningful way right now. It’s all going to be fine. My kids can learn about food and nutrition at home.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. -R. permalink
    September 3, 2015 10:58 am

    Bosco Sticks – you had me running to the googles for that one. Also, ‘spicy meat’ does sound rather ominously vague.

  2. Laura K. permalink
    September 3, 2015 1:38 pm

    I also had to look up Bosco sticks. And I agree on avoiding the meat. Recalls always seem to include school meat products.

    After several days of self-flagellation with Pinterest posts, I settled on a cold mini Trader Joe’s pizza, grapes and a yogurt smoothie for my newly minted kindergartener. I’m not sure why I feel better about a TJ’s pizza than a school one.

    My frustration is the packaging waste. Despite going against all I know to be good and true, I’m still a sucker for pre-packaged stuff.

  3. September 4, 2015 1:11 pm

    Eating this kind of food probably does more damage to a kid’s food habits and palate than to the kid’s immediate health (kids are resilient!). The good habits and palate you can cultivate at home. It’s terrible, though, that we have to struggle to undo what our kids pick up at school. And many parents don’t have the time or inclination. Some eat poorly themselves. Much of the food at my son’s daycare is barely recognizable as food. Just terrible.

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