School Lunches I’d Actually Eat

Flickr / chalkdog

Now that the child nutrition bill has passed, Obama Foodarama has a sample menu showing the kinds changes that will be coming to elementary schools:

So under the *current* unhealthy school food ethos, Monday’s Before Menu would be:

Bean and cheese burrito (5.3 oz)
with mozzarella cheese (1 oz)
Applesauce (1/4 cup)
Orange Juice (4 oz)
2% Milk (8 oz)

But under the new bill, Monday’s After Menu is dazzlingly delish & nutrish, excellent fodder for any junior locavore:

Submarine Sandwich
(1 oz turkey, .5 oz low-fat cheese)
on Whole Wheat Roll
Refried Beans (1/2 cup)
Jicama (1/4 cup)
Green Pepper Strips (1/4 cup)
Low Fat Ranch Dip (1 oz)
Cantaloupe wedges, raw (1/2 cup)
Skim Milk (8oz)
Mustard (9 grams)
Reduced fat mayonnaise (1oz)

Monica Potts calls the changes “simple and sensible; it’s only disappointing that it took an act of Congress to stop serving something called pizza sticks in favor of chef salad.”

I’ll add that with the major increase in fresh produce, the sample menu much more closely matches food I would be happy eating now. Looking at the “before” menus reminded me of just how gross school lunch was when I was a kid — and also of how I had absolutely no clue that it was gross. I knew it wasn’t as the same as my mom’s home cooking (into which she incorporated a lot of veggies), but school food tapped into the salt-fat-fried pleasure centers on my tongue.

This, however, taps into my worries about the long-term effects of the law, since it raided SNAP, or food stamp benefits, for more than $2 billion in future funding to pay for healthier, more expensive food in school.

Others have complained about this before, but I still don’t think eating poorly (or not at all) twice a day is a fair exchange for a healthier school lunch. Of course I’m happy about better food in school, but I can’t help but wonder what the outcome will be. Though, truthfully, who knows? Maybe everything will be fine. Maybe kids will view the less healthy stuff they eat at home as normal, and see school lunch as the anomaly. Or maybe we’ll produce a nation of tiny orthorexic tyrants.

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1 Comment

Filed under Food and Drink

One response to “School Lunches I’d Actually Eat

  1. I personaly think school lunches should have a lot more food , i have 7th period lunch and i am always hungry afterwards , 13/20 students are still hungry after 7th period lunch

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