Photo: woodleywonderworks (flickr)
What’s For Lunch
As a parent of kids in the public school system, I am concerned about the food choices that my kids receive on a daily basis in the school lunch line.
I know, the easiest thing to do would be to pack their lunch and snacks each and every day from home. I could do that, but I do not feel that I should have to, and also there are parents out there that may not be able to do that on a regular basis. Our child nutrition programs are so important to the daily nutrition of our kids, that I think as parents it is time we take a closer look at what our kids are being offered at school.
As Earth Eats contributor Julie Rooney wrote, the USDA has released new nutrition plans for school meals. These plans include increasing the availability of key food groups (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat free and low fat milk) all the way to increasing the education on nutrition that is available to kids.
I thought this was a great gesture nationally, but my concern is how soon will we see these changes on a local level?
One School’s Response
I decided to contact individuals around the country that work for public school nutrition programs to see how parents can get more involved with the quality of nutrition received by our kids at school. I received an excellent response from Cindy Hobbs, the director of Child Nutrition Services for the Charlotte Mecklenburg School System in North Carolina.
She states that in their school system, fried chicken or French fries are not on the school menu and all fryers in all schools have been disconnected and removed.
Also, information is available to parents online, including grade level menus, nutrient compositions of all items, and carbohydrate and allergen menus.
She offers additional suggestions:
- Engage toddlers early to eat well-balanced meals and choose from a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- After the age of two, feed kids the same 1% or skim milk schools serve.
- Engage your pediatrician in discussion about your child’s weight and nutritional needs.
The Charlotte Mecklenburg School System prides itself on implementing and improving the meal program before changes are mandated by either state or federal government.
As parents, we have to look at our own school systems and demand that similar changes are made to protect the health of our kids.