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School Lunches & Can We Do Better?

by Nikolai Nikitenko March 15, 2016

School Lunches & Can We Do Better?

If you ask people to name something that president Barack Obama has done in his tenure in the oval office, all of us will most likely give a plethora of different answers. But it cannot be denied that if you ask people to name one thing that first lady Michelle Obama has done, then it will most likely resonate with her work to improve the nutritional quality of school lunches. Though it seems great effort has been made to get these improvements made, I can say that with what I have seen, there has been great movement in the wrong direction. I do not have children of my own, but I do have much younger siblings who still go to school. The eldest of my siblings is in the second grade and I have seen the kind of food that is served. The school system is trying to improve quality in the direction of nutrition, but quality of what we would call a delicious meal is being sacrificed in the process. But my question is why should we rely on the schools for feeding our children?
As parents and family members I believe that the responsibility for the majority of the development of our children lies in us. Yet we allow the school system, whose sole mission should be the education of our children, to decide what they eat or how. I propose that we change our ways of how we provide for our children and take more responsibility for where and how they eat. The school system will always have a budget on how much they can spend on a single meal and at the same time they are required to make it affordable for children and nutritious. The result I can tell you, is an absolute sub-par meals that often resemble slop.
One generation ago it was considered the norm for all meals to come from home. The parents would provide a breakfast, pack the children a lunch and then there would be a homemade dinner. Today it is considered normal for 2/3 meals in the day to come from outside the home. The issue with the matter is that there is little we know about what goes into the food we get when we eat out. The result is that we end up consuming more food that in unhealthy in the long run. Many parents would argue that providing a meal 3 times a day is for too time consuming, but I have one small quote from a friend of mine that you need to take to heart. “If you don’t make time for your health, you will find time for your illness”. The same thing goes for your family. If you do not find the time to ensure that your family has a healthy and nutritious meal every day, then you will eventually find time to take them to the doctor and pick up their medication. Life is all about sacrifices and sometimes we have to decide what is more important. Getting that extra hour clocked in at work, or getting your child a healthy and nutritious dinner?
The question then lies on how do we control what our children eat at lunch while at school. Firstly telling them to do something is often going to lead to empty promises and demands. At my brother’s school, they provide the kids with a salad every day. But from what I have seen and heard, that salad gets tossed into the trash. The kids end up eating some kind of “pizza” or hotdog and call it a day. So what do we do? I propose that we all begin packing a homemade lunch. You can make your child something far more delicious and healthy than a pizza, that is pretty much pita bread, tomato sauce and Velveeta, at home. Make something simple like turkey sandwich with plenty of greens. Give them a fruit salad made from scratch! You can make a whole variety of foods that your kids will love and that will satisfy their nutritional requirements for that meal. Just off the top of my head I can think of a dozen things you can make that will be much better. Make a grilled chicken burger with veggies! How about a chicken salad! You can make some delicious fish cakes! All of this would be far better and healthier than Michelle Obama’s nutritious slop.
We do not just have a few hundred lunches at stake here. In the end how we feed our kids is how they will end up perceiving how they should eat. If we begin installing in their mind that eating out all the time is ok then that is how they will begin acting in their adult lives. But lets get back to the present. The here and now issue that plagues us. It is scientifically proven that a good quality and nutritious meal can be the difference between a well preforming student and a poorly preforming one. We shouldn’t sit around and hope that the government gets its act together and starts feeding our kids better at school. I can tell you that if we do that we will have the same conversation about our grandkids 10-20 years later; and that is not the result I want and I am sure it is not the result you want as well. So let us get together as parents and family members and pledge to take a little more time out of our day and provide our children with a delicious and nutritious homemade lunch to eat at school. We need to start this now, because if we don’t make a move, then no one will make it for us.
How often do you cook at home? Do you pack your kid’s lunch for school? What do you pack? Let us know and lets keep the discussion going!




Nikolai Nikitenko
Nikolai Nikitenko

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