“President Obama,” my grandson told me when I asked why he wasn’t eating lunch at school. “Actually, it was Michelle Obama,” his mother clarified.
It seems the new government incentive Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, part of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign, has backfired in our part of the Florida. My grandkids are packing their lunches with glee to avoid the lunch line.
I wondered how “gross” it could be so I checked out the district cafeteria menu. This is what I could eat for lunch today – September 15. For an entrée I can choose between mini pancakes, sausage patty or ham & cheese melt sandwich. With that I can add pineapple tidbits, a tossed side salad and tater tots. Yuck.
On second thought, maybe today’s not a representative sample since tomorrow is an early release day. The cafeteria staff might be cleaning out the refrigerators. Uh oh. On next Tuesday, I can look forward to chicken nuggets, a wheat roll or the same ham & cheese melt sandwich. I can substitute green beans for tater tots.
Okay, maybe Tuesday is just a bad day. I’ll try Friday. Pepperoni pizza, cheese pizza or bean and beef burrito. Pair that with steamed carrots, tossed side salad and chilled mixed fruit. Yeah, right. Steamed carrots go great with pizza and burritos. In the words of my grandkids, “Disgusting.”
As for healthy, the ham & cheese melt has a whopping 1545 mg of sodium. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting sodium to less than 2,300 mg a day for those under 51. That’s more than half a day’s allowance in one sandwich. But, hey, that wheat roll meets the whole grain guideline.
To be fair, I checked on the breakfast menu. It sounds tastier and choices seem healthier, except for the steak biscuit with 444 calories. Calorie wise, kids are better off selecting a muffin or cinnamon roll – but is that teaching healthy eating habits? I think not.
British chef Jamie Oliver tried to help the Los Angeles, California, school food providers with his Food Revolution but was booted out. I wish he’d come back to America and give it a try here. In Florida there’s an interest in young chefs preparing fresh and healthy food. Maybe if we turn the school menus over to the kids cooking in Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Student Chef Cookoff, my grandkids would eat lunch at school. Click to see the kids’ video.
Honestly, with 21 per cent of the students in my area on free and reduced lunch, we need to do better or we won’t have a healthy future here in Florida. It is possible to work within the federal guidelines and make our kids both happy and healthy.
How about starting with a big pot of red beans and rice, fresh vegetable soup or chicken gumbo and a fresh salad and fruit buffet? Oh yeah, and a whole wheat roll.