School Choices or Healthy Food

Healthy Food in School
I can’t understand why schools serve any junk foods at all. It doesn’t make any sense to me.

TV chef Jamie Oliver has made school lunch programs his personal crusade. I admire his determination and pluck. His television program, Food Revolution, has kept kids’ school lunches in the limelight.

Los Angeles Unified schools, last Tuesday, became the nation’s largest school district to stop serving flavored milk in a move to combat child obesity.

Zach knows school is a place to learn about what makes a body healthy.

The LA school board caved to Jamie Oliver’s pressure. Oliver criticized the district on his TV program saying that flavored milks contain the sugar equivalent of a candy bar.

The school board voted to eliminate chocolate and strawberry milk from schools as of July 1. Cheers to Oliver! It’s through his media pressure that this small step has been taken in the LA schools.  Some, who are not in favor of eliminating flavored milks, say that milk consumption drops when children are not offered the option of chocolate and other flavored milks. I say, “So what?”

Okay, I get it that the food fare in public schools is substandard, because it’s cheaper to serve junk foods. But there isn’t any difference in the cost of plain milk and flavored milk. In fact, many whole foods could replace the nutrition-void foods now offered at the same cost.

Here’s where I sound old. “I used to walk a mile to school…in the rain or sun (I grew up in California, there was no snow)…some days it was over a hundred.” Really there was NO school bus, we walked, rain or shine. Moms didn’t drive kids to school then. Classroom didn’t have air conditioning either. Most kids brought their lunches to school.

In the “olden days” the school lunch was void of fast food, junk food and most sugars. You couldn’t even choose to drink fruit juice, because the only choice was plain whole milk. There were no soda or candy vending machines allowed on school grounds. If you wanted those things, you had to bring them from home in your lunch bag.

School is a place of learning. The most basic learning is learning how to be healthy. I agree with Jamie Oliver, school lunchrooms should offer ONLY healthful choices. Whole foods are pretty much a joke when junk food is offered. Kids, used to eating junk foods, will choose junk foods.

School of Hard Knocks
Sugar would be banned in my school. So would chips (with the exception of occasional whole-grain corn chips), soda, fried foods and flavored milk. If I were making the decisions for the school “of hard knocks” lunchroom, only whole foods would be available. (I sound like Oliver, don’t I?)

Kids, even elementary children, could choose what they wanted to place on their trays, cafeteria style. If that means the schools initially make less food, then prepare less. Less food being prepared would eliminate good food going into the trashcans. Parents would be informed, if their child won’t eat anything prepared by the school, they could bring their lunch from home or skip eating lunch. Only fruit and desserts with limited sugars would be offered. And each kid could take only ONE dessert.

You know it wouldn’t take long for peer pressure and hunger to kick in. Kids would begin to eat the whole food offered…eventually. And if they didn’t, so what? Their parents can pack their lunches with junk foods if they want.

It shouldn’t be the school’s responsibility to cater to the bad eating habit of the kids. Nope. The school’s responsibility is to teach good eating habits, not to make accommodations for the junk food preferences of children.

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