Love school lunches? The ease of just handing your child a few dollars, they get fed and you don't have to deal with it? Or perhaps like me you would prefer to send a home lunch but your child begs every day for hot lunch. In this day and age there is a huge "Lunch Revolution" lead by our first lady Michelle Obama, as well as one of my personal favorite people, Jamie Oliver. Standing firmly behind his idea that the American "hot lunch" is contributing to obesity and the fact that as it stands now my children's generation will be the first one to ever live a shorter life span then the generation before. They want to change this, and so do at least 700,000 other people. Check out this teacher who ate school lunch every day and blogged it.
Why though? Why are so many people speaking out against school lunch? How did this become a push button issue? Because the hot lunch program is government funded. Schools have to provide a lunch containing a magical formula of protein, vegetable, whole grains, etc. All within a very strict budget, while attempting to get children to eat it.
Its long been an American joke that the lunch line is full of "mystery meat" but in this day and age its actually true.
"The U.S. Department of Agriculture is purchasing 7 million pounds of the "slime" for school lunches, The Daily reports. Officially termed "Lean Beef Trimmings," the product is a ground-up combination of beef scraps, cow connective tissues and other beef trimmings that are treated with ammonium hydroxide to kill pathogens like salmonella and E. coli. It's then blended into traditional meat products like ground beef and hamburger patties." source .
Lovely right? This is only the beginning, think of all of those white meat chicken nuggets/patties your child consumes. that have at least 20 ingredients, some schools use nuggets with over 30. Pretty wholesome right? Good thing they count for a protein and whole grain.
How about the chocolate milk that the kids love and drink daily? Sugar, food coloring and at minimum it contains 5 added ingredients. Healthier then soda you say? Not so much, chocolate milk and sodas have almost the same amount of sugar per serving.
I have made a choice, consciously in the last four years. At first we eliminated processed foods and excess sugar, slowly this led us to primal eating. Eating primal is actually keeping Mr.Sassy off of nexium, and has all of us feeling a ton better health wise. I do not expect a school lunch to cater to this, nor do I expect restaurants I frequent to cater to my life style. What I do expect is whole REAL food that is simple enough for children to recognize and want to eat. This means no more processed food. It means more cooking and less reheating. It means standing up for our kids and choosing healthy foods that help them concentrate and learn and make their bodies feel good.
These next few weeks I am going to delve deeper into the mystery of school lunch and really try to understand what it takes to make a change. Starting with Jamie Oliver's food revolution, I want to know the details, the cost differences. Are the kids actually eating this real food? Or is it a waste of a lot of time?
Some schools -- like several in California -- have taken the matter into their own hands, and have found ways to profit from those efforts. Umpteen school districts have taken part in a decade-long initiative, supported by a philanthropic organization, that provides schools with equipments and chefs who teach cafeteria workers to cook from scratch and produce fresh meals.
Stay tuned, I think this is going to be an interesting research project!