Can We Really Trust Schools With Our Children’s Lunches?

A disturbing event which occurred in Snohomish, Washington recently made national news: a first grader has claimed that he was denied a school lunch by cafeteria staff, even though he was supposed to receive one through the free lunch program. The boy’s father is understandably furious, and the Snohomish County School Board is investigating.

While this story represents what is likely an isolated incident by an irresponsible school employee, it can lead us to ask the bigger question of how much we should really be trusting schools to feed our children – not just in regards to meal availability, but also size and quality. Although certain schools are making progress, US school lunches are often still very low on the nutrition scale.

The problem? Many schools have a very limited budget for food, and as they have to buy in bulk from a low-cost supplier, quality tends to suffer. You may recall the news about pink slime – or lean finely textured beef – on the news a couple years ago. Well, schools have used this in their hamburger patties and casseroles for years, and while there was a brief boycott after pink slime rose to news fame, many are using it again.

Even if your child’s school is not using pink slime for their mystery meat, many school lunches are drenched in processed sauces and gravies, which often contain preservatives, trans fats and other potentially dangerous additives. Meals may be cooked in cheap soybean and canola oils, the vegetables are usually canned, and, let’s face it, they often don’t taste so good, so kids may not eat them.

For the optimal health of your child, and because home-cooked food comes from the heart, if at all possible, make your children’s lunches at home, using fresh, nutritious ingredients. This way, you will know exactly what your children are eating, and that they have enough to eat with them. Check out our steps to a perfect packed lunch.

As far as free lunch programs, hopefully schools across America will take notice of the recent event in Washington, and make extra-sure that every student eats lunch every day. If more schools in the US follow the example of certain schools in New York, California and Pennsylvania, the items on the menu could get a little healthier, as well.

-The Alternative Daily


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