Topic #112: Should schools control what kids eat for lunch?
When I see the amount of garbage left after kids’ lunches with all the small packages of crackers, cheese, fruit rollups, cookies, etc. I am inclined to think there are a lot better ways to do this whole ‘school lunch’ thing. Ways that are healthier for kids, and better for the environment as well.
When I was an exchange student in Finland, I was particularly impressed at how lunches were provided. We sat at a couple of different seatings depending on our schedule. One entré was provided with a variety of milks (skim, 2%, homogenized, and buttermilk) plus rye bread slices, fruits and vegetables. The meals were fine, made up traditional Finnish foods. Potatoes, meats, soups, stews. They weren’t horrible, they weren’t great. To be honest, I have very little memory of what the school lunches were, except that I know they occasionally served maksalaatiko (liver casserole) a dish I loathed, so when it was on the menu and Langinkoski Rotary met, I would go there for lunch! As well, I remember the day that they served blood pancakes, because the whole lunch room turned to watch me attempt to eat them… (I couldn’t do it. I only managed one bite). There was very little packaging waste involved in these meals, and the garbage was mostly compostable left overs. It was companionable dining with friends in the bright lunch room.
The word ‘control’ in this prompt is interesting. It has to do with the Chicago school district that is banning junk food. This is old news around here in BC. Already pop and fried foods have been removed from all our school cafeterias and vending machines. Healthy options replace them and no one seems to miss them. Many of our schools are on a healthy snack program that delivers fruits and vegetables to the schools every month. Kids get BC produce like pears, baby cukes, grape tomatoes, and apples. We distribute them in our classes, and kids munch away while they read or work. The baked French fries taste just the same as the deep fried ones. Who knew? Canadians don’t tend to object to legislating lifestyle, which tends to make Americans bristle a bit.
I don’t like to see that so few of my students actually bring lunch. The girls in particular are apt to go without, and when queried will say that ‘they’re not hungry.’ Most of them as 12 and 13 year old are already afraid of getting fat from eating too much. However, on days when we have hot lunch brought in, most of them eat eagerly, so I am inclined to think that if every school had a lunch room and served a healthy hot lunch each day, the kids would enjoy it.
I’m all for adopting the Finnish model, and training our kids for a lifetime of healthy eating.