My school system, like most, went on a crusade not too long ago about finding ways to combat childhood obesity. The nutrition program did away totally with white bread -- all the rolls they serve are wheat, and even the crust on pizza is wheat. They stopped serving "junk" food as often, like pizza and hot dogs, and started branching out with more spices and flavorings. So far the change has been positive, for the most part.
Quite a lot of our students get school lunch, but since a lot of them are economically disadvantaged, we have a fair number who get their meals either at a greatly reduced rate, or for free altogether. We also have a breakfast program that makes sure the kids have a hot breakfast in the morning to get their systems going. Most of our students eat everything you put in front of them. Grits, eggs, toast, pizza, vegetables, salisbury steak, whatever.
My one gripe is that the cafeteria has these little frozen dessert cups, kind of like Italian ices. They SELL these on the side. This is the one thing that they really make money on, so they push them pretty hard. At fifty cents each, they don't sound like much, but when a "discounted lunch" student can get an entire lunch for less than that, that's pretty hefty.
We have kids who'll go through the lunch line and get a slice of pizza (or whatever that day's entree is) and nothing else, and two of these stupid icee cups. They then proceed to eat nothing but the icee, and leave the pizza untouched. Now, you and I both know that these icees no nutritional value whatsoever, but these kids don't care about that. They want the sweet stuff, and they don't care if they're supposed to eat their lunch first or not.
What burns me up the most about it is not that the kid is eating sweets -- they're KIDS! They're going to do that! What really frosts my noonies is that if you were to take it away from them, you'd have a parent in your face so fast that your head would spin! I actually had a parent tell me one time that he didn't care if his kid ate only ice cream, because he'd be getting *some* nutrition. My thought was, "That's what the LUNCH you're getting for ***FREE*** is for!" Explain that to me! Explain why you think that the balanced lunch that you get for free (which is subsidized by our local taxes, by the way) is not nearly as healthful as a cup of lime sherbet?
Another kick in the pants is that our cafeteria knows that students only eating ice cups instead of lunch is a problem, yet they won't stop selling them because it makes them money. Yeah, that's really helping prevent childhood obesity.
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