Monday, January 30, 2012

School Lunch Overhaul At Last

I have seen the school lunch issue from so many different angles.  I remember being an elementary school kid when Reagan had ketchup and pickles declared vegetables.  Even then it seemed like a pretty shocking concept.  Then there were the years and years of teacher site council meetings where we heard the million and one reasons why we couldn't have decent food in our cafeteria.  Now I'm a mom facing the prospect of feeding those meals to my perfect little girl for twelve years.  When it comes to American school lunches, it's not a pretty scene. It's been that way for far too long.

 For the first time in fifteen years, we have some new regulations from the government.  It seems that what is served in school cafeterias is determined almost entirely by this top level of leadership, so it is possible that these changes might mean real improvements for kids.  The guidelines call for less salt, fat, and sugar, and attempt to increase the amount of fresh produce and whole grains allowed.  Of course it's not all good news.  After heavy lobbying, the tomato sauce on pizza is still counted as  a veggie. 

Nevertheless, the news could mean some very positive changes.  It will take a while to trickle down to the cafeteria level, and it is still possible that the lunchroom realities might not be as pretty as we would like.  Will there ever be a day when a parent can send their child with lunch money and feel confident that they will be well fed?  I will be watching my nieces' lunch menus with great interest and crossed fingers.

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