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Sunday, August 26, 2012

School Lunches or Why I Pack My Children's Lunches

My kids are fairly healthy eaters, despite my girth.  My son was starting to have some issues, but we are working on it.  With two non-slender parents (even though I didn't get fat until my late 20's- and not really fat until my 30's), I know genetics is working against them.

My daughter is a freak.  We have been at birthday parties when she's turned down cake because she's either full (this is a fascinating concept to me-- this "full" thing) or she just isn't in the mood for it.  She loves fruit.  She is not a big meat eater.  She is annoyed that McDonald's now puts french fries in all Happy Meals (okay, I have to say, this cracks me up.  You used to have a choice between apple dippers and french fries.  McDonald's got so much flack about kids' nutrition -- because apparently they are luring children there?!?!-- that now they don't give you a choice.  You get both.  Which is hilarious because we don't want the french fries.  The poor teenagers do not understand this concept-- 'Can I have 2 apple dippers?'  'No m'am, the fries are included.' 'But we don't want the fries...'  then a quizzical expression follows... but that's a blog for another day).  ANYHOW, she naturally eats healthy.  Don't get me wrong, she can chow down on a bowl of ice cream with the best of them (her mother, for example), but in general, she eats very healthy.

My son used to eat healthy, then I think peer pressure got the best of him.  We've had some issues, but this isn't the place to discuss them.  Let's just say, I need to be a better role model.

But back to the school lunch issue...

Despite what you may think, I do not think school's should spend money on making sure your kid eats a healthy lunch.

What?

Clearly, I must have misspoke.

Nope.

I think with all the budget shortfalls, I would rather a school spend the money on adding another teacher and having smaller class sizes than adding a salad bar.

You read it right.

The schools have a limited budget in which they need to feed kids food that they will eat.  Since most kids gain weight over the summer and eat crap 90% of the time at home, why should the school be held to a higher standard?  Mac-n-cheese is fine with me. The kids eat it.  It's cheap.  Hot dogs- go for it. 

I, however, will not be buying it for my kids.

I have a choice. 

I pack their lunch.

Both of my children have BEGGED for hot lunch.  They've each had it once.  To quote them both, "it sucked."

Yep.

My son tried to warn my daughter.  She fell into the trap.  "It was gross, Mom."

Now people might say well that's just dandy Mama Bean because you can afford to pack a lunch and you must have all this free time to do it.

It's not expensive.  It's not time consuming.

Here's how I, someone who has to go to work every day, handle it-

I pre-pack 80% of it on Sunday.  Then while the kids eat breakfast and get their backpacks together, I simply assemble their lunches.  This year everyone is getting wraps. I just finished making 10 wraps.  They are in their baggies, in a plastic container, waiting to go.  They get an apple or grapes that I will put in the baggies in the morning.  A go-gurt yogurt stick.  Two cookies (last year, they were Oreos, this year, we're going to higher fiber home made... we'll see...).  Water to drink.

Last year, my daughter took a boiled egg, applesauce, yogurt and water.  My son had a sandwich, applesauce, yogurt and water.

So far all the people that think I am dripping in money- here's the breakdown on cost:

Tortilla .37
Roasted Chicken (Hillshire Farms) .45
Lettuce .10
Cream Cheese .10
Tomato .10
Apple .38
Yogurt stick .31
Chocolate chip cookie .25
Water 0

Total: $1.96

It costs $1.85 for the school lunch.

For 11 cents, I'll pack.  And I probably overestimated the expense.

And the nutritional content, compared to the school lunch, well.... chicken nuggets with tater tots... hmmm... you decide. I don't think you need a degree in nutritional sciences to analyze this.

So my point is, the school is there to educate your child during school hours.  They kindly provide a meal to your child.  Some even provide 2 meals.  They need to do it cheaply and quickly.  If you don't like the options, for very little, you can pack a nutritious lunch.

What?  Your child won't eat what you pack?  Okay, but why do you think the school should be better at getting them to eat healthy if you can't?

Am I crazy on this?

I think all kids should have access to healthy food.  I'm just not sure that the overburdened public school system should be the manner in which it's done.  I know for some kids, it's the only meal they get.  This makes me sad.  But is it the school's responsibility?  I think they do an okay job-- better than most parents in these cases-- but with limited funds, maybe making sure the families that truly cannot afford meals for their children are in contact with organizations who can provide them with healthy foods for breakfast and dinner is a better way to go.  In Las Vegas, more than a third of children don't know when or if the next meal is coming.  It's a tragedy.  It's also a tragedy that the graduation rate is 50%.  That, to me, is the most important issue facing the school. 

It's just always bugged me that schools are the social centers for so many programs and then get chastized when they can't get it right.  They are too busy raising people's children to have time to teach them these days.

It's not their job to get meal plans right.  It's the parents.

Lunches are a perk.  They are a courtesy.

So before you start complaining about the crappy school lunches, YOU try feeding 600 kids in 20 minutes.  In fact, try feeding your own and give the schools a break.





1 comment:

Miz said...

NO NO NO you are SOOO not crazy....