I have talked about my hate of public school lunches before (see this article for more info.). The typical school lunch consists of: Main dish- Some kind of greasy, low quality meat product; Beverage- Your choice of milk, plain or sugar-filled chocolate or strawberry milk (in my school, you had to buy water unless you were lactose intolerant, meaning as a person who tries to stay away from dairy as much as possible, I’d spend a lot of dollars on bottled water until I started thinking ahead and packing my own in a reusable bottle); Vegetable/Fruit- Almost always frozen or canned in some sugary syrup, or a taste-like-cardboard red delicious apple; Dessert/Snack- More fat, either in the form of potato chips or some version of Twinkies. None of this speaks of health to me.
How are we supposed to teach our kids healthy eating habits in school when they are being fed CRAP in the very institution that teaches them against it? How are parents to ensure that their kids eat healthy when schools often serve every health-conscious adult’s nightmare?
Until something changes, these questions are hard to answer. School lunches are filled with processed, chemicalized, and purely unhealthy foods. The best option is to pack your kids’ lunch or buy healthy food that tastes even better than the junk they’re fed at school to prompt the kid to want to pack their own lunch. This is what I did all throughout high school, but I was one of few. The rest of my friends didn’t prioritize a few minutes in the morning to gather a lunch together, so they’d suffer through the repulsive school lunches they were served day after day. What makes school lunches even worse is the fact that even though they are fatty, greasy, salty, and sweet, the perfect combination to make foods taste good, they still often taste like crap. This totally goes against my philosophy of if I’m going to eat something unhealthy, it better be darn good. I’d regularly hear my friends complain about how fake the mashed potatoes tasted or how horrible the hamburgers were or how slimy the lunch meat was, but they’d shove those substandard, artery-clogging foods down their mouths anyway because they were hungry. School food is at the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to quality, meaning that even the fat and salt is often not enough to make it taste good.
What sparked this ranting post about how terrible school lunches are was an article I read about a teacher in the mid-west who plans on eating her school’s lunch everyday for the next year. She will be blogging and photographing the lunch everyday. Stop by her site and check it out. I stopped by and immediately noticed a conglomeration of the type and quality of food I mentioned above: Pizza, canned pineapple, a red delicious apple, horrid looking tater-tots, puke “green” green beans, Salisbury “steak” that look like it was sitting in a pile of some kind of grease (or maybe that was just a greasy sauce), pretzels, a lifeless burger, etc. etc.
I have to say I was surprised I didn’t see more bags of chips and imitation tasty-cake desserts, but there’s still numerous months left in the year. I think the teacher is certainly a little daring in doing this. For one, I don’t think I could ever go back to eating school lunches. Also, she’s bound to gain a little weight, particularly if her former lunches were on the healthier-side. Even if she doesn’t gain too many pounds, she’s definitely taking a toll on her health. I love the idea though and think it makes a great topic for a public blog.
Hopefully her experience will help raise more awareness about the issue of school lunches and the terrible quality that they encompass. Congress is expected to discuss and hopefully improve child nutrition programs this spring. These public officials are long past grade school years, so I think it could do them some good to take a look at this teacher’s blog and remind them of how terrible school lunches are. I’m sure they know that school lunches aren’t healthy, but take a look at these pictures, and anyone can see just how lifeless school lunches really are. Especially if you have kids, take a look, and if you don’t already, you may just want to start packing your kids’ lunches.