Thursday, April 12, 2012

I Wouldn't Touch That If I Were You

Allow me to get my rant on, if you will. heehee

It was reported on February 14, 2012 that a Food Inspector for the North Carolina pre-school lunch program deemed a 4 year old student's home packed lunch unacceptable [i.e. "not healthy enough"] and confiscated it.  To make matters worse, but required by state law, the Inspector replaced the lunch her Mom made with food that met the states guidelines.  She removed a turkey and cheese sandwich, a banana, potato chips and an apple juice to give her the school's lunch of chicken nuggets.  Full story here

I'll wait.

Are you done screaming now too?  The stupidity. It burns.

I have always, always made my kids' lunches.  Even when I was on bed rest [most days] when I was able to make my one trip downstairs I prepared Wallene's lunch. Not for kudos or for a sense of superiority to those that don't/can't afford to, but because I find school lunches to be nutritionally suspect according the USDA guidelines.  THAT is the main reason, but it goes even further to me.  School lunches are expensive. The children spend more time waiting on line to purchase lunch than they have to eat [average wait in high school: 20 minutes/time left to eat: 5 minutes].  Finally, but no less important, I am never sure that the kids are given everything they pay for or if they are even going to like/eat what is served.  By making their lunches I know their lunches are healthy, made with food they like and will eat plus they have the full 25 minutes to eat.  I am sure the Mom in North Carolina made her daughter's lunch with the same good intentions we all have.  The only thing that I can say in support of the school lunch program is that they provide at least one guaranteed meal to the children that might not eat otherwise.  I applaud the school for providing free lunches, it is so important, but as long as we have the means to do so I will continue to make them for my child[ren] and be thankful I can.

And if anyone were to touch my kid's lunch?  They will drawing back a nub.

I try to pack a balanced meal with a sandwich [main] or hot thermos with soup/stew/pasta, a fruit [fresh or packed in juice only], something crunchy [either chips, crackers with a cheese chunk, nuts or sliced veggies] and a sweet.  I pack it in an insulated lunch bag with bottled water which they prefer over the 100% juice boxes I used to buy.  They are never given money for extras or an additional drink because the school will also sell any of their menu items a la carte, including desserts, plus they offer strawberry and chocolate milk. Even scarier is the student accessible soda machine for purchase of Pepsi products.  Grrrrrrr!

I wrote this post today because that story from North Carolina has been in the back of mind ever since I read it. Now, every night when I prepare her lunch, I wonder would THIS be confiscated per the guidelines? Would I be getting the "phone call"?

Tonight I decided to put my skillz to the test and see what the calories and fat were and if each food item meet the guidelines that the government put forth.  Since the main is not the "norm" for her usual lunch I was a little skeptical, but see what you think:

- 1 slice of [hand tossed crust] pizza* with regular sauce, cheese and green peppers/onions.  This is 220 calories with 11 grams of fat.  It covers a grain serving, 2 vegetable serving [sauce and vegetable toppings] plus one serving of dairy.
- For crunchy I put in 1/2 sliced, raw green pepper with 2 tbsp ranch.  An additional 120 with 11 grams of fat covering 2 more servings of vegetables and another serving of dairy.
- Fruit is 3 small clementines and an apple nutrigrain bar [which Wallene usually eats later in the morning because her lunchtime is not until 2 pm**]  2 servings of fruit, 1 serving of grains adding up to 120 calories/3 grams of fat for the apple bar and 115 calories/0 fat for the baby tangerines.
- For a sweet I gave Wallene 2 Pirouette hazelnut wafer cookies.  They are 110 calories/3 grams of fat and since their main ingredient is wheat flour I suppose they could qualify as a serving of grain per the USDA, but let's not kid ourselves, mmmkay?
- 32 oz of water

Final Tally:

  • Calories:  655
  • Fat grams:  27
  • Grain:  2
  • Dairy:  2
  • Fruit:  2
  • Vegetable:  4
  • Protein: 0 
Since we never count calories or fat grams I had to do a little research to find out what Wallene needs to maintain her current, healthy weight as an "active teenage girl".  She needs to consume about 2,000 calories and keep the fat  between 44 - 55 grams per day.  The calories are just fine with the fat grams a bit higher than I would prefer for one meal.  The lunch did meet or exceed government guidelines for all categories except protein.  If there had been meat on the pizza or nuts instead of the green peppers for the "crunchy" portion I would've met the USDA requirement - but both are high in calories and very high in fat.  Since we eat most of our protein at breakfast or dinner, this doesn't concern me.  Still, doesn't it make you wonder if that one omission would've had my daughter being given a chicken nugget meal instead of [what I consider] a healthy meal?

I just KNOW the school does not want to hear my response if the answer to that question was to be "yes".  Believe me. 
* I know I am on the "Mommy police's" radar now, don't you? giggle Bad Skippymom, bad.
**Her lunch time really fries my Fritos.  The students leave their homes around 8 am.  Her class is not scheduled lunch until 6 hours later and then they are dismissed from school ONE hour after they are finished eating.  I have never understood this and all of our kids have had this lunch time at least one time during elementary, middle and high school years.  It is incredibly frustrating.  Thank goodness for very understanding and accommodating teachers who allow them to eat quietly during late morning classes, otherwise I would think their energy levels would start to drag while in class waiting for lunch to begin.
Sorry if you think this is a silly thing to write a post about but considering other factors in our world that came up on Wednesday, I thought it best to continue to try to keep it as light hearted as possible. 
Please enjoy your day and I just betcha' you can find one thing today that will make you smile.  Would you at least try that for me? I'd really appreciate it.

Take care Tadpoles.  We'll see you on the flipside.


colenic said...

I read that article a few weeks ago and couldn't imagine...and I don't even have kids...
Late lunch times are insane....and never make any sense to me.
Sounds like yesterday was challenging...thinking of you and sending lots of hugs and love to all of you...I will share my smiles in a post tonight...and a trip post..promise!!

Jeannie said...

I would have flunked lunch. Probably every single day. My kids hated packed lunches - I'm pretty sure I made them make their own. I'm pretty sure I didn't check them. I didn't do breakfast either. Find something to eat! I'd yell. If they found last night's dinner's leftovers, fine by me. I let them buy the hot lunch (no cafeteria until high school) the one day a week it was available. Usually pizza. I have no clue what they did in high school. I did feed them an excellent supper. None were overweight. They all had good teeth. All were healthy (except for Matt's asthma). And besides Graeme packing a couple extra pounds (no more than ten) they are all still the same.

I would have gone ballistic if I'd been sent a bill for chicken nuggets! On what planet are those healthier than a turkey and cheese sandwich?

ellen abbott said...

Had that happened to me or my kid, that school would have had a mad wet hen on their hands and I would have refused to pay the money even if it was only $1.25. I can't believe they have someone inspect lunches brought from home. And to give her chicken nuggets instead!

Spadoman said...

You Go! You should be the Cindy Sheehan for school lunch!
I totally agree with you. I make many lunches for Grandkids. They prefer it to the school crap. By the way, school lunch products are processed and bought from a food service company that their only criteria is profit!
We don't buy processed food. A sandwich, fruit and home made granola, (which we make ourselves) is a normal lunch. Even the water is taken inn our own Nalgene bottle from our home. I get my drinking water from a spring near Lake Superior!
Now you got me started. Fine. Skippy Mom for lunch cop, 2012. You get my vote.


Becca said...

*big hugs* You are a Good Mom. I'm so glad that you're one of the few who still pack their kids' lunches, and are fully aware of the nutrition content of said lunch! Now... as per your request, I'm going to go find something to be happy about, both for yesterday and today, and blog about it myself so you can share my smiles. :)

Knitty said...

It's been a long while since I've been in a school to see what is served, but when I was active in my sons' elementary school, the lunch selection made me feel woozy. Never before or since have I seen green tinged hotdogs. * shudder *

I agree with you about taking on the school should they interfere with a lunch from home. Sometimes you cater to a child's preference and sometimes you're working with what is left at home the day before shopping. One meal isn't always indicative of normal lunches, and one less than ideal meal (judged by dubious standards) isn't going to hurt anyone.

Tracy said...

I always sent lunches too all the way through high school. First of all I refused to pay for lunch. Second this way I could control portions/calories. Poor Whitney is so short that she really has to count them.

The is really late for lunch. In middle school they had to do that for one of the grades at 1pm but school didn't start until 8:45 so it wasn't quite so bad. I know that they have to split lunch hours because their are so many students and only a limited amount of space but it does seem to undermine the learning environment if all the kids are hungry. You don't learn that way.

Thisisme. said...

You're so right Skippy. How on earth can they concentrate on learning in the afternoons, when they have had to wait so long for their lunches. They must be just about to expire by this time. Thank goodness the teachers are showing a little common sense. Common sense seems to have gone right out of the window in so many parts of everyday life, throughout the world, and I really do despair. Chicken nuggets?! What the .... is that all about. Honestly, you couldn't make it up, could you? Great post, and I am ranting right along with you dear friend. Hugs.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

That story frosted my feathers when I first read about it, and it still does. That woman had NO RIGHT to take away that child's lunch. Period. And then to BILL the parents for that crappy school lunch replacement? GRRR. However, I'm pretty sure that woman lost her job over the incident. As she should have.

Sally said...

I didn't go read the article, but I vaguely remember hearing about it. It doesn't seem like that student's lunch was all that unhealthy, either. It's ridiculous that things that people/agencies choose to do battle over. I see student lunches all the time and snacks and let me tell you, most of them are not in the healthy arena in my opinion. I could see if it was a lunch of little debbie snacks, and fruit roll ups.... ugh!

Some of the schools I go to, they didn't even offer a hot lunch until this year, so I guess they would have nothing to complain about and they couldn't really take substitute anyone's lunch, either.

lesthook said...

I am very late to this but that school is local and a friend works there. It was a dumb thing to do and caused a lot of finger pointing at the school for sure,LOL!

Confessions from the Hairdresser said...

I'm even later to this one, too! But I absolutely agree whole-heartedly, especially after I saw the blog made my the teacher that ate school-lunch every day and took pictures of it (I didn't realize how gross school lunch has gotten/is; when I was still in highschool we had a salad bar/ hot lunch line/ or a counter where you could choose sandwiches like chicken patties on buns).
What nutritional training have school officials undergone to qualify then to assess an individual's nutritional needs? Does this mean that they have the right to confiscate a vegetarian lunch and hand the kid on of their gross cheeseburgers?

Incidentally, you make better lunches for Wallene than I get to eat myself! I've always taken lunch every day and it's usually lots and lots of small snacks, like nuts/pretzels/bottled juice smoothies/baby carrots/bell peppers and CHEESE BY THE FISTUFL.