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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

An open letter to Michelle Obama,

Dear Michelle,

I was hoping we could chat about the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2012.

First, I just wanna say that I think your heart was in the right place. I imagine you were thinking let's get some healthy foods into these kids and I also image that you were thinking how hard can that be.

The answer is pretty darn hard.

I mean have you read this document? It's like 11dy billion pages?

Here's a snippet:

Offer fruits and vegetables as two separate meal components;
• Offer fruit daily at breakfast and lunch;
• Offer vegetables daily at lunch, including specific vegetable subgroups weekly (dark green, orange, legumes, and other as defined in the 2005 Dietary Guidelines) and a limited quantity of starchy vegetables throughout the week;
• Offer whole grains: half of the grains would be whole grain-rich upon implementation of the rule and all grains would be whole-grain rich two years post implementation;
• Offer a daily meat/meat alternate at breakfast;
• Offer fluid milk that is fat-free (unflavored and flavored) and low-fat (unflavored only);
• Offer meals that meet specific calorie ranges for each age/grade group;
• Reduce the sodium content of meals gradually over a 10-year period through two intermediate sodium targets at two and four years post implementation;
• Prepare meals using food products or ingredients that contain zero grams of trans fat per serving;
• Require students to select a fruit or a vegetable as part of the reimbursable meal;

Most of the above is self explanatory and in a perfect world would also be implemented at home. But can we get real here for a minute?

Requiring a student to take a veggie and or a fruit will not get them to eat it. Creating healthy garbage cans really isn't the goal, is it? Lowering the serving size on meat/meat alternates will not make kids eat black beans. Confusing food service personel with random vegetable serving requirements based on the color of the vegetable is just asinine. That whole leafy greens only count as half the serving size is really mind boggling? How big of a salad does a first grader need? Can't we just serve things in half cup servings and allow our kiddos to take up to two? Who eats 6 ounces of green beans? Does Sasha? I doubt she did when she was five.

Besides did you know green beans are a fruit!

For what it's worth here's what I know. If given the opportunity to have one starchy vegetable a month, kids will pick the starchy over just about anything else. The only benefit of offering asparagus is that I get to hear little kids ask me what spear guts are. This may come as a shock to you, but there are plenty of kids that can't tell the difference between peaches and carrots. If you cut the rind of of the watermelon they have no idea what it is. Some kiddos don't even know that bananas need peeled!

Having pudding once or twice a week will not make you fat. Not moving. Living in front of theTV. Spending more time online than IRL will make you fat. Consuming soda, chips and microwave burritos will make you fat. Having overweight parents will increase your chances of becoming overweight.

Eating all five offered components of your school lunch will not make you fat.

More than 32 million kids participate in the free or reduced lunch program and I think it's important that we not only provide them something healthy to eat we also provide them something they like IN REASONABLE PORTION SIZES.

School lunch doesn't make kids fat, it never has and it never will.


A lunch lady in PA

4 random thoughts:

SparkleFarkle said...

This post is shear genius!

Connie N said...

Can I add my signature to your letter to the well intentioned but slightly misguided First Lady? As a Kitchen Manager smack dab in the Heartland feeding kiddos supposedly raised on farm fresh goodness, I have never encountered so much confusion about what a vegetable is, what a fruit is, what a component is, what a protein is...need I go on?! I don't know about your program but ours has taken a giant leap backwards in terms of offering appealing, kid friendly choices! And it ain't gonna get any better over the course of the next couple of years! Good luck,
A Lunch Lady in Nebraska

Monkey Man said...

I'm a guy...we never read the small print, I wouldn't get past the first sentence.

Jenners said...

I'm sure she does mean well and is trying to do what she can but you make some very valid points. Sigh.

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I'm a 41 year old (gasp) freelance writer, school cafeteria manager, wife and mother. I have three children and one anxious and overweight beagle. I use my blog to make others laugh, to share some cool crafts, to document my lunchlady adventures and to lament about the challenges faced by us all on the journey called life. Thanks for visiting. Please leave some meant some comments.
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