K-12 School Meals Are an Issue Now Despite All of the Other Challenges

Anyone who’s ever taught K-12 knows that you can’t teach kids who are falling asleep in the classroom, and that kids who are hungry don’t make very good students. In some of the poorer school districts kids come to school without eating breakfast, and they may not get dinner every night. Being able to eat in the school cafeteria gives them the nutrition they need to survive. It’s not that our schools need to become a babysitting ground, that’s not the point, but the realities do exist.

It is unfortunate that we spend so much time debating exactly what is going to be in all these school lunch programs, and what type of nutrition is going to be in the meals. At one point we were supposed to have everything in the five food groups, but then it was decided that some of the things in the food groups were only there due to excellent lobbying and research done by industry associations which sell that type of food. That’s a real problem.

There was an interesting article on May 17, 2011 in the Wall Street Journal titled “Spuds, on the Verge of Being Expelled, Starting to Fight in the Cafeteria – Federal Plan to Limit Potatoes on School Menus Whips up Supporters; Gateway Vegetables” by Jennifer Levitz and Betty McKay. The article stated that; “under the USDA proposal, school cafeterias would have to limit starchy vegetables such as potatoes, corn, peas, and lima beans to a total of 1 cup per week for lunch.” If you are a farmer growing potatoes, you probably disagree with this, and I have to say I do to.

It would seem to me that with all the crisis and controversy over school budgets, the laying off teachers, and the ever present debate over standardized testing that we have more serious problems on our hand than potatoes, corn, and lima beans which are pretty healthy for the human diet. Unfortunately, some people believe they will make the kids overweight. Apparently the controversy came about because school cafeterias were providing too many French Fries for the children, and many health nutritionists complained.

Recently, we discuss this at our think tank, and one of our members decided we should call them “Freedom Fries” – as a joke, a takeoff of the issues we had with France during the last Iraqi war. Nevertheless, apparently French Fries will eventually be cut from these menus, and other starchy vegetables will be as well, without the evidence or actual nutritional studies. I am worried that something such as potatoes, and corn which have been the mainstay of human diets for hundreds of generations depending on nationality, have done just fine for human beings, and even children.

The real problem with juvenile diabetes and fat kids has more to do with the lack of exercise than it does what they’re eating. Providing a half a potato a day in the school lunches actually makes a lot of sense, and potatoes don’t cost that much, therefore it would also help with the budget. Best of all there are lots of ways to eat potatoes; Fries, potato chips, mashed potatoes, hash browns, and even potato donuts as the article mentioned, that is.

These are all serious issues, but perhaps we need to get back to the basics of teaching. There’s nothing wrong with potatoes, and I hope you will please consider all this and think on it. If you have any comments, research studies, or actual empirical data I’d love to hear what you have to say, so send me an e-mail.



Source by Lance Winslow

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