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