Wednesday, August 22, 2012

School Lunch Changes- Are Kids Getting All They Need?

The start of the school year brings excitement and anxiety to the Hadrick house. After all we have all three of the Hadrick's starting school this year. There is a lot to be thinking about; everything from first outfits to leaving my baby at her first day to getting ready for 4th grade homework! 

The one thing that is on my mind that shouldn't be a concern is if my children are going to receive a school lunch that fulfills their nutritional needs. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)  which administers the federal school lunch program has come out with new guidelines on what children participating in school lunches this year can eat. Please take the time to look at the new guidelines. I would also encourage you to check out the before and after menu suggestions from these guidelines. 

The thing that stuck out to me the most is that Meat has been decreased in the school lunch program. I support eating a variety of foods in moderation. In my house we eat fruit and vegetables at each meal along with a healthy source of protein and calcium. But I know not every house is like mine. I've been in many schools across this country to know that for some children the school lunch program is the only opportunity they have to get the food they need for proper development of their brain and body.  

Meat has been cut out of the breakfast program all together and the lunch program has 8-10 oz per week for a children in grades K-5. My son is 9.  He is one of the tallest kids in his class and is within his ideal weight. For this active child, I know 2 ozs of meat in his school lunch is not going to fill his calorie needs. I also know that hungry kids don't perform as well in school. 

This week Trent Loos did a radio interview with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. He is the head of USDA when Trent asked him about the new school lunch program guidelines he was unaware of the changes to the school lunch guidelines.  When Trent specifically indicated no protein is in the breakfast program, Secretary Vilsack dodged the issue. Please take the time to listen to the interview.

1/3 of the kids in school are obese or at risk for being obese. I don't think the answer to helping obese children is to decrease the amount of protein they receive. Yes, providing them balanced meals and helping them to get and stay active is important. I'm fortunate that my children love a variety fruits and vegetables, not all kids are like that and I'm concerned that just because they have more fruits and vegetables on their plates they will not eat it. Yes, the answer is to have engaged parents reinforcing this at home and unfortunately that is not always the case. 

I've relied on the school lunch program to provide my children lunch and I will still continue.  The change I'm making for my children is to be sending them with healthy fulfilling snacks that they will be able to use to supplement the lack of food they are getting at lunch. 
Oh, and I will be letting my legislative representatives in Washington DC know that when it comes to my children's nutritional health, USDA school lunch guidelines are missing an important component- MEAT!


  1. I agree whole-heartedly, Stacy! To use a favorite buzz word of today's media, this diet doesn't appear to be "sustainable." And what about our athletes? They are beat at the lunch table before they even have a chance to compete. We need to fuel our children for the future, not set them up for failure.

  2. I can't count how many websites I have been on today where concerned parents are speaking out against this new lunch program. And you are right Stacy, limiting protein is what will make kids more hungry. They should decrease the refined carbs and increase the protein! If government really cared about the health of our kids -how about making the lunch period longer so the kids are not inhaling their lunch. How about getting out of school one hour earlier so they can actually have time to get in a decent exercise - can you actually remember the last time you broke a sweat in P. E.? I don't think I ever did. I have always sent my child with a lunch from home and if they ever stop me from doing that - it will be the last day my child attends public school. I commend you for voicing your frustration!