Pet Peeve in the Cafeteria

The school board heard a report from Shelly Allen, director of nutrition services.  See Victoria Camron’s story in the Times Call.

The nutrition services group is doing great work.  They are making improvements in nutrition and the efficiency of services.  I am impressed with their efforts.

I do have a pet peeve when it comes to what transpires in our school’s cafeterias.  It is not high on my priority list.  Our district administrator and board have far bigger issues to manage.  I’d still like to see changes.

I ate lunch with my Kindergarten daughter not too long ago.  I was disappointed when I saw her classmates choose strawberry milk rather than plain milk, including my daughter.  I looked at the label on the strawberry milk.  It’s full of high fructose corn syrup.  I was dismayed when a high proportion of her classmates purchase a “fruit” roll up a la carte.  Best I can tell is these things are corn syrup and gelatin.  I told my daughter no on the fruit roll up.

When we sat down to eat, the kids went for the strawberry milk and fruit roll ups before the entrée.   I tried to nag the kids near me to make better choices.  But, I held little sway.  Some of the kids ended up consuming nothing but the junk.

We allow our children to eat this crap from time to time.  I’m only a borderline prude.  We occasionally allow them to buy these items at school.  Still, I don’t think it should even be an option.  If parents want their kids to eat junk then they can choose to send it to school with them.

Here’s the problem.  It forces the school to be a parent when they shouldn’t have to be.  Parents can monitor their children’s purchases by tracking the balance of their child’s lunch account.  If the child is purchasing junk food against parent wishes, parents can ask the lunchroom cashier to restrict further purchases.  The lunchroom clerk who we work with is great.  But why should she have to be our police officer?  And, there simply are not enough adults in cafeterias to ensure that children eat their entrée before they eat the crap.

The best option is to restrict sales altogether.  That way, parents don’t have to have the fight, “Can I buy…” and school staff doesn’t get settled with one more parental duty.

I have asked, through Randy Zila, the nutrition services team to re-evaluate the policy of these types of sales.  An exemplary school district would make this change.

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4 Responses to “Pet Peeve in the Cafeteria”

  1. Brad Jolly Says:

    John, I commend you wholeheartedly for recognizing that the district is selling this “crap” (your word) to kids.
    This is, however, an area where you are clearly out-of-step with the district’s P.R. machine. Please check out the article at http://www.stvrain.k12.co.us/news/2006022302.php to see what I mean.
    The headline screams, “The District Is a National Leader In School Nutrition,” but when you read the article, you see they are pushing “low-fat flavored and white milk,” the low-fat flavored milk including the strawberry goop you decried earlier.
    The district’s propaganda is in conflict with both reality and what would actually be good for kids?
    Really?
    I’m shocked!
    Shocked, I tell you!

  2. Brad Jolly Says:

    By the way, the Food Network ran a segment (see http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/show_cw/episode/0,1976,FOOD_9955_23374,00.html) filmed at our very own Legacy Elementary, featuring “Bronco Orange Milk.”
    Yum! Full of frooty goodness, no doubt!
    Apparently the district’s Brain Trust couldn’t come up with better things for the kids than making them be pawns for a dairy industry marketing campaign.
    Oh, well. The district got a lovely “national award” certificate out of the deal, plus a few thousand dollars. That’s what counts on S. Pratt Pkwy.

  3. Brad Jolly Says:

    John, it has been two months since you asked for a re-evaluation of these types of sales. What was the result of the re-evaluation?

  4. John Creighton Says:

    I have not follow up on this issue. I will need to do that.

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