Friday, September 07, 2007

Healthy Food At School?

A former student approached me on the quad today. "I went to get this cinnamon roll, and they made me take this other stuff, too. Do you want it?" In the small paper tray was a tiny carton of apple juice and a container of grapes. I took the apple juice and he tossed the grapes.

I didn't check the nutrition label, but I have to believe apple juice that sweet has been "augmented" a bit with some sweetener. And if the calories of a cinnamon roll aren't enough, we now compel the students to take them with the additional calories of juice and grapes!

To top it all off, a cinnamon roll used to come packaged in a napkin. Now, you get a paper tray, a styrofoam container with grapes, and the carton of apple juice.

Aren't the same people who want to control our lives, and now tell our students what they have to buy with their roll--aren't these the same people who want to cut down on waste? What, exactly, is the greater good here?

We don't sell personal pizzas at lunch anymore. The packages of chocolate chip cookies, which last year came three for a dollar, now come two for seventy-five cents--a 12.5% price increase. They've cut down on the size of the orders of nachos; I don't know if the price has been altered.

And we're not supposed to sell candy at school, and students running for student council can't give away candy with a "Vote for me" label on it--not because it's bad democracy, because it hasn't been in years past, but because that could be seen as the school's pushing candy on kids!

I don't have an issue with selling healthier food to kids. I do have an issue with compelling them to buy more than they want to buy (the cinnamon roll "bundle"), or telling them what foods they can give each other.

The next step will be a total ban on so-called junk foods on campus. Teachers will be junk food police, and there will be underground rings of students who will provide the contraband to others.

The market would correct the situation, if only the school cafeteria were subject to market forces.


Anonymous said...

I am forever greatful that for my entire school career there was a malt shop or burger joint across the street. As for contraband, I have heard that there are kids with jackets with inside goodie pockets marketing their goods.

Ellen K said...

The meals that students and teachers can buy, or that are provided for them free, are horrible. In their effort to make things "healthy" and "affordable" they take away such things as real meat, real fruit and real vegetables and replace it with breaded, baked nuggety things of dubious origination. No more fries, but they have cake. No more soda, but they have fruit drinks sweetened with corn syrup. They took away the salad bar-too expensive, but then brought in four more machines filled with junk food that is only marginally healthy. For example, they can have peanut M&M's because peanuts are healthy. But they can't have Oreos. They can have Raisinets (the most dastardly use of chocolate in the history of mankind), but not Junior Mints. The "fresh" fruit looks like a biology experiment. The jello appears to be prehistoric ooze. And while the kids have a thirty minute lunch, try getting 600 kids through the line in that time. Add to that the cost. Just a regular lunch with an entree and side-is $4.00. And most of the boys need two or three to fill them up. It would be better nutrition and cheaper to have Subway take orders and deliver. And I can only speculate on what they bill the federal government in the name of free lunches. Since we have outside contracted meal service, their function is not to provide good food to kids, but instead, to make a profit. I don't mind that on the surface, but I think the kids and their parents are getting a very bad deal for their money.

KauaiMark said...

The school districts here have already started to push this agenda last year:

Darren said...

When they do this, it's really for the kids' own good.

Oh, and to save a buck.

How can fresh fruit and veggies not be cheap? They're the most inexpensive things around, as long as you're not trying to buy plantains or pomegranates or something equally exotic.

Mr. Lucchese said...

Excluding the crime related element, which I know would normally be your first argument, what is the difference between school (government) restrictions on diet and restrictions on drug usage? In both cases, the state is seeking to protect its citizens from their own bad judgment.

Anonymous said...


FWIW, Little Debbie Snacks can be found for right around $1 for a box of 6-8 servings. An individual bag of chips (lunchbox size) runs .25. Grapes are currently running $2.99/lb and oranges run about $1 each. Apples are $1.59/lb.

We love fruit - but in our house, it's a big-ticket item compared to junk food.


Anonymous said...

I tell my students who complain about the lunches...

a. Hey you're not paying for it. Don't like it bring your own. What the mystic of peanut butter and jelly elude you?

b. Its institutional food, you don't like it complain to the state.

Where I am they aren't supposed to bring candy or such, but we don't enforce it hard, state rule. Our former governor went on a diet and lost a high school student in weight. So he's a convert for good food.

Dan Edwards said...

Here in California, there are notices I have seen that "California Fruit Growers send their best fresh fruit to California schools." Does this mean the rock hard pears ? The "fruit cocktail" loaded with high frutcose corn syrup ? The tiny, odd tasting oranges ? All of these "fruits" are served at my schools cafeteria and from what I see, the vast majority of these 'foods' end up in the dumpster. Jr. High kids generally DON'T eat fruit. And the other stuff? Loaded with salt. Yes, the fat content is lower than it used to be, but it is, for the most part, crap. And a huge waste of tax dollars. But it is politically correct.

I almost always brown bag it. You can't really leave campus to go home to eat with a 30 minute lunch break.

Darren said...

Tony, the reason for having laws against certain drugs *is* the crime element--that drugs are addictive in a way that Little Debbie snacks are not, and cause people to commit severely anti-social acts in order to satisfy that addiction.

Drug laws aren't necessarily to protect druggies from themselves, they're designed to protect the rest of us from druggies.

Jane said...

We have major food issues at our school as well. Our principal encourages parents not to send their own lunch, she feels that children will feel "singled out." She will confiscate a student who brings Gatoraide while students who drink chocolate milk or sweetened apple juice from the school are fine. Meantime her big reward is desert with the principal and Sizzler coupons. Mixed messages!

Darren said...

There would be hell to pay if someone took away food that I had packed for my son's lunch.

Anonymous said...

Aren't the same people who want to control our lives, and now tell our students what they have to buy with their roll--aren't these the same people who want to cut down on waste?

Don't Ask Political Questions, Comrade.