I’m a big fan of the Obamas, both Barack and Michelle. I think they have brought a dignity to the White House that hasn’t been seen in decades. (You may not agree with his policies, but you have to admit there have been a lot fewer embarrassing blunders than the last few presidents.)
And I wholeheartedly support Michelle’s campaign to have school lunches offer more healthy options for my students. But, as often happens in education, the people who make the implementation protocols have little, if any, knowledge of how things work when you are dealing with hundreds of teenagers.
“You can lead a teenager to healthy food, but you can’t make ‘em eat it.” - Old English proverb, tweaked to fit this post.
Our lunch ladies are required to make each and every student take 2 servings of fruits or vegetables along with their entrée. The students are not allowed to leave the line without them, and if even one does when we’re being audited, the school is fined the entire amount of our Federal Lunch Program funding for that day.
Sounds good? Yeah. Every student getting two servings of fruits and vegetables at lunch. Theoretically, and excellent idea.
Can anyone guess what’s really happening in lunchrooms across America? (Other than me eating a lot more produce at lunch, because I like that kind of stuff.)
G’head, think about it. I’ll wait. … … … … … … … …
Yup. Our trash bins are filled with discarded fruits and vegetables. And since fresh produce is more expensive, the serving size of the entrées is smaller. This I know to be true, because I often do lunch duty and am down there in the lunchroom watching it all happen.
What I suspect is also happening is that the students are spending more money at the vending machines, eating food that is less nutritious than the entrée they had for lunch. And I’d bet that high school students are going to the nearest fast food restaurant for lunch.
So, since every good bitching deserves a reasonable alternative, here are my suggestions:
- Have all those great fruits and vegetables available to the students, but don’t force them to take what they are just going to throw away.
- Continue to serve smaller portions of the entrée, which will make the students more inclined to choose and eat the fresh produce. (Teens are more likely to eat something if it is their choice to take it instead of having it forced on them.)
- Use the money you’ll save by ordering less produce to make more nutritious entrées, not just go back to bigger portions.
Just a thought.