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School Lunches...Where's the Nutrition?

School Lunches...Where's the Nutrition?

So, let me get this straight, studies indicate that when children are eating healthy foods they do better academically, are more alert, and have more energy throughout the day. If this is the case then why do the schools give children unhealthy food choices on a daily basis? This seems contradictory.

When I worked as a school nurse I would often be in the school cafeteria when the elementary children came in for their mid-morning snack. The snacks they chose to eat where donuts or a giant pretzel with cheese sauce. Beverage choices were the small cartons of milk, juice, or sports drinks, both of which are high in sugar. In all fairness I must admit that there were also healthy food choices available such as apples or yogurt. However, what child is going to choose an apple when he or she could have a donut. I have educated my children about healthy food or "foods that make you grow" and they do eat healthy overall, but there is no way they would turn down a donut or other junk food if given the choice. So lets not give them the choice. Why would and should a donut even be available? Is it more profitable to offer unhealthy foods?

Later in the day the children go back to the cafeteria for lunch. Some days the lunch consists of healthy foods. However, many of the entrée items consist of processed foods such as, corn dogs, spaghetti-o's, fish sticks, macaroni and cheese, pizza, chicken nuggets, hot dogs…these foods are not healthy. Processed foods are not good for you; Homemade, natural foods are good for you.

I was shocked when I realized the kinds of foods that the schools were serving the children. Some schools even offer fast food choices like Pizza Hut or Taco Bell, not to mention all of the deep fried foods. This is one of the dumbest things I have ever heard. Why on earth would a school, of all places, offer such unhealthy food. Shouldn't schools be teaching the children to be more healthy and make better food choices.

So I'm thinking it goes something like this: Mary goes to school, has a deep fried frosting covered donut (with sprinkles on top) for a snack. Has mini corn dogs, spaghetti-o's, cauliflower and broccoli with dip, bread, and applesauce(with sugar in it) for lunch. Then goes to health class where the teacher tells Mary she should eat healthy foods and follow the food guide pyramid. I'm quite certain the food guide pyramid does not have a processed, high calorie, high fat, high sugar category. I think the schools feel it is ok to feed my kids corn dogs as long as you are also serving a fruit or vegetable with it.

We wonder why there are so many obese children. You can take away the play station and send them outside to play, but the next day they are going to go to school and eat a donut, pop, bag of chips, pizza, candy bar and French fries. Hey, maybe they'll have a serving of fruit by eating a fruit roll-up (I'm being sarcastic, fruit roll-ups are actually bad for you).

There is so much illness and disease in this world. Cancer is everywhere. Why? What we put in our bodies is so very important. The kind of food and beverage we put in our bodies determines our health. Sure as teenagers your body can tolerate a lot of abuse, but eventually it will catch up with you. We have to teach our children to make healthy food choices from the time they start eating.

Fortunately, with the passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act by congress we should see positive changes on-going in the next several years. Because of this act and increased awareness I think we are heading in a better direction. It always amazed me that a Registered Dietician could come up with these menus. Certainly there is a budget to adhere to, but how can one go against all they have been trained and educated on, especially when the client of the dietician is a child....

With my Nursing Hat on,

Lisa Karen

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!
Having Kids Messes You Up!


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Tuesday, 28 May 2024
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