Letters to the Editor

Out to lunch

September 30, 2010

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To the editor:

We ate lunch at our daughter’s elementary school (USD 497) Tuesday and were mortified. The children around us ate chips, fake cheese and milk doped with high fructose corn syrup. That’s it. Repeat: Chips for lunch, fake cheese, fake sugar. How has school lunch come to this? Who is running the USDA? (Besides the corn processing association?) Chips are not lunch. They shouldn’t even be in the school building.

The saddest part was yet to come. Next we suffered this heartbreaking scene: The children who had chips as their lunch proceeded to disrupt, misbehave and were cognitively unable to function. It was frustrating for the teacher and the children who were not struggling. Our focus on test scores has become so out of control, that we’ve lost sight of the fact that these children are humans with needs. Where are our priorities?

The real crime is two-fold. The kids having chips for lunch may be children who are in need of quality nutrition most of all, and someone is rich because our nation feeds their schoolchildren chips for lunch. Who will stand up for these children?

Melinda L. Toumi,

Lawrence

Comments

jackson5 4 years, 6 months ago

Melinda - Thanks for your letter. It is shameful the district gives students football stadium nachos for lunch.

Last year, the district made a profit on school lunches of $400,000. Assuming every child ate school lunches (including the virtual students!), this is about $400 per student in lunch money collected that was not spent on food, like fruit and real cheese.

The savings account for food services had $895,833 at the start of the year. The school board voted to increase lunch prices this year.

I think that at least one principal agrees with the sentiments of this letter as he ordered delivery for school board members when they ate at his high school cafeteria last year.

grammaddy 4 years, 6 months ago

They always do that. I see a lot of fast food being carried into our school for lunch. What does it mean when the teachers won't eat it? And can someone tell me the difference between the "pizza" the schools serve for breakfast and the "pizza" they serve for lunch? The food i so gross, I have started making sack lunches for the grands myself on the days I'm responsible for getting them to school. Their Moms get aggravated because 4 of the six qualify for FREE lunches. Why feed them FREE garbage? We could really use some help from Jaime Oliver!

notajayhawk 4 years, 6 months ago

I wonder how many of grammady's sack lunches end up in the trash over the course of a school year when the kids go for the nachos ...

grammaddy 4 years, 6 months ago

None. They bring their lunch bags home with trash still in it.

notajayhawk 4 years, 6 months ago

You must be so much fun for the grandkids to visit.

jackson5 4 years, 6 months ago

Correction: it would be a surplus of $40 per student, not $400.
Should have had my coffee first!

notajayhawk 4 years, 6 months ago

How much fruit and real cheese do you think that $0.22/day/student is going to buy?

madameX 4 years, 6 months ago

Surely then can do better than chips for that much. I mean, even a baked potato would be an improvement and I bought a five pound bag over the weekend for less than $2.00.

fancy80 4 years, 6 months ago

a baked potato will cause a blood sugar spike, but surely would be better than the chemicals and additives that are in those chips. I firmly believe that fast food, pop and artificial foods (chips) are at the root of so many children having attention problems (ie. ADD and ADHD). If ever, American citizens could come together and agree on something, I would hope it would be that we can and must do better for our children. They are our future leaders.

notajayhawk 4 years, 6 months ago

Hey, yeah, let's find something else to blame ADHD on.

Maybe the problem isn't what's causing so many kids to have ADD. Maybe the problem is that we take normal healthy active kids that sometimes misbehave and stamp ADD on their foreheads.

jafs 4 years, 5 months ago

Agreed about the over-diagnosis of ADD.

But you don't think what kids (and adults) eat affects their mood and behavior?

Determined 4 years, 6 months ago

Thanks for the topic.

Do we now need the government to tell parents what they are supposed to feed their kids? I think the answer is no. I also think that bringing the topic to light is an important step in fixing it. Children don't benefit from chips for lunch. This is not new news. People should know this.

To change this problem, I'd suggest going to your district to find out who is in charge of the food program. Meet with them and discuss options. WE need to fix our local problems. I work in a district which dealt with this problem. It was a struggle in the beginning to change the menu, but it can be done. There will always be adults who don't eat well. Can't change that. But maybe we can have an impact on our community.

Good luck!!

whats_going_on 4 years, 6 months ago

Do we now need the government to tell parents what they are supposed to feed their kids?

es, in a way, we do, seeing as ignorant parents don't give a hoot about what their kids eat anymore. I find it disgusting when I see overweight/obese children. Who lets their child get to that point? They are setting their children up for many more problems than just being made fun of at school, or whatever. Many more, life-threatening problems.

Not to mention, life-threatening problems that the rest of us are going to have to pay for when they get heart disease and diabetes at age 25.

Kudos to those parents who encourage exercise, and therefore when their kids do eat the crap in school, they don't have many problems. HOWEVER, what would it HURT if the kids were eating more healthy food? Is that a problem? Why would anyone encourage their family to eat fatty, un-nutritious foods?

The fact that people actually speak out against their children receiving more healthy food in school speaks for itself. I'm just stunned that people can be SO politically charged that they forget what really matters.

whats_going_on 4 years, 6 months ago

and wow, I apologize for the poor grammar in that. My fingers were working faster than my head. :)

Scott Drummond 4 years, 5 months ago

While I agree with the general thrust of your statement, I believe we need an effective government to protect children in the schools from the ever present threat of exploitation by the purveyors of junk food. In the current state of our society the wage slave parent, or parents if the kid is lucky, simply cannot engage in the activism you propose. They want a functioning government to hold certain standards so that they do not have to engage in multiple fights to secure decency and civility.

justforfun 4 years, 6 months ago

" The children who had chips as their lunch proceeded to disrupt, misbehave and were cognitively unable to function" WOW where did you find that fact? Did you really moniter who had chips and who didnt, then watch to see if they misbehaved??? I'm sure your kids loved the visit since you paid attention to all the other kids.

How about start packinging lunches and stop whining!

Forgive if I miss grammered anythin as I be havin me som chip fo breakfast.

notajayhawk 4 years, 6 months ago

Yeah, I mean kids acting out in a school lunch room would stand out so much, being so unusual and all. Especially with that scarlet 'N' on their foreheads.

notajayhawk 4 years, 6 months ago

And you really believe there's a correlation between nachos and acting out? Seriously?

Even if there were, it's equally possible that kids who behave badly make worse menu choices, not vice versa.

notajayhawk 4 years, 6 months ago

Sure.

Which scientist was it, again, that said there was a correlation between nachos and "disrupt[ing], misbehav[ing] and [being] cognitively unable to function"?

I'll wait.

[crickets]

By the way, Jesee - I must have missed the part where it said they were fruit nachos.

notajayhawk 4 years, 5 months ago

It was a fair statement, pointing out that you have, several times now failed to respond to what was, after all, a simple question. I didn't ask if fruit can affect behavior. I didn't ask about the "correlation between diet and behavior changes". I didn't ask if "What you put in your mouth can affect your behavior and mood". Pretty amusing that you accuse ME of putting words in YOUR mouth. I asked a simple question, which you no doubt will duck once again (you have a very bad habit of doing that.). I asked if there was really a correlation between the nachos eaten by those children at that school cafeteria on that day and the disruptive behaviors of those children at that school on that day. Get it now?

Nice sources, BTW. Do you even read what you link to? From one of your sources:

"there is overwhelming scientific evidence proving that 50% of the Attention Deficient Disorder, (ADD) and Hyperactivity Disorder, (ADHD) is directly caused from dangerous chemicals laced into the packaged, processed foods that our children are eating daily" [Quoting you - I have no idea what Dr. Pert actually says since you didn't provide any link]

"There's no evidence that food additives cause attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but an increasing number of studies show that certain food colorings and preservatives may cause or worsen hyperactive behavior in some children. Because several studies looked at a combination of food additives and their possible effects on hyperactivity and ADHD, it isn't clear which additives may affect behavior."

Here, let me repeat that:

Dr. Pert: there is overwhelming scientific evidence proving that 50% of the Attention Deficient Disorder, (ADD) and Hyperactivity Disorder, (ADHD) is directly caused from ...

Dr. Huxsahl: "There's no evidence that food additives cause attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)"

Maybe one more time:

Dr. Pert: there is overwhelming scientific evidence proving

Dr. Huxsahl: "There's no evidence that food additives cause"

Yeah, I'm convinced.

Dr. Pert's contention (or at least your interpretation of Dr. Pert's contention) is, to say the least, a crock. Not only is it ludicrous to make the claim that "there is overwhelming scientific evidence proving that 50% of" ADD & ADHD is "caused" by the food children eat, no such proof is even possible. Correlation does not indicate causation. One thing we DO know about ADD & ADHD is that there is a strong genetic component. You think it's just possible that a child with ADHD might have a parent with ADD or ADHD who isn't attending to their dietary needs adequately?

[continued]

notajayhawk 4 years, 5 months ago

"may"

"very possible"

Yep, that's conclusive.

BTW, Jesse, since you apparently went over to the school and gathered the list of ingredients that are in that particular product from that particular manufacturer, please do share those with us, so we can compare those to the ones that "may" cause or worsen hyperactive behavior in some children. Oh, wait - the continuation of your above quote was "... it isn't clear which additives may affect behavior."

notajayhawk 4 years, 5 months ago

How many straw men are you going to try to throw out in one string, Jesse? Now you're seriously contending that there is as much sugar content in the nachos as in a ball of spun sugar? Oh, wait, maybe you meant it was the preservatives, or possibly the cheese flavoring, in the ball of spun sugar.

notajayhawk 4 years, 5 months ago

[continued] Let me clue you in on ADD & ADHD, Jesse. Attention deficit disorders are far and away the most over-diagnosed disorders in the DSM. Do you know how many, if not most, cases of ADD & ADHD are diagnosed, Jesse? A kid acts out in school, and the teacher tells the parents to get him checked for ADHD. Because of the extreme wait times, expense, and stigma associated with mental health treatment, the parents talk to their family physician, who figures the teacher sees more ADHD than he does, so he puts the kid on Ritalin or Adderall. Both of these are amphetamines, which tend to exacerbate the behaviors in a normal child, but now there's an excuse - his behaviors are explained away by his 'condition' and the assumption that he's not taking his meds or they aren't working. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. But, hey, the parents and teachers have to have something to explain the behaviors - after all, it can't be the parents' who raised a child that misbehaves, it can't be a teacher who can't control one of her charges, right? It just has to be something medical.

Other major factors in children being Dx'd with ADHD is environment and familial circumstances. Ya' think just maybe a parent who doesn't show their child enough attention, or is undergoing circumstances that leave to chaos or upheaval in the home, just might be feeding the kid more junk food than substantive meals?

All of the barely-related responses you've posted are long-term factors - yes, long-term dietary deficiencies can cause changes in cognition and behavior. Duh. A single 'dose' of nachos is not going to alter a child's basic behavior. If you read the LTE and the comments posted here by the LTE writer, almost all the kids at the school that day - including her OWN child - had the nachos. And they were ALL acting out? Gee, the school must have had a riot on their hands all afternoon. Was there something else going on? Was there an unusual number of parents present for some open house or parent day? Did the kids just come from some outside activity or trip? Was there a birthday party for one of the children where they got stuffed with sugar and all wound up from the festivities? Who knows? And who cares, right, when we can just stamp "ADHD" on their foreheads and blame the nachos.

And before you talk about putting words in people's mouths and condescension, Jesse, perhaps you might want to re-read your own posts. But of course, it's different when you do it, right?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 6 months ago

I can only take it that you approve of feeding kids junk food as part of the school lunch program.

Melinda Toumi 4 years, 6 months ago

I'm a mom, nurse, and now a chemist, so of course I noticed who was eating what. And my kids love it when I talk to their friends at school.

Arizona 4 years, 6 months ago

I ate with my child on Tuesday as well. Two children at our table ate chips and cheese "product" for lunch. that is all they ate. The choices they were offered were embarrassing. A hot dog that looked to be older than the children, the chips and cheese, or a potato. I saw not one child eating the potato. How can that be called "healthy"?

areyousure 4 years, 6 months ago

Was the meal that the children were eating the only option? Or did they pick only what they wanted to eat?

The writer said that the children around them were eating this. So if they were eating lunch with their grandchildren, unless they brought lunch with them, they were eating something else. How is it the School District's fault if some children choose to eat unhealthy items?

You can offer all the healthy choices that you want but if kids won't eat it, whose fault is it?

Melinda Toumi 4 years, 6 months ago

I ate the potato, but not a single child eating school lunch did. Even my husband chose the chips, since our daughter did. He wanted to experience it with her. I said, no thanks. But hey, I have extensive knowledge regarding this stuff, and 6 year olds are still learning to read. Of course they will pick chips.

Practicality 4 years, 6 months ago

They pick chips because they taste better and are more fun to eat to most kids. It doesn't matter how fancy or wholesome the food is, if a kid won't like, they are not going to eat it. And, there isn't a school district anywhere in the nation that is going to start force feeding kids.

gccs14r 4 years, 6 months ago

Yep. When I was a kid, you got what was served and got in big trouble if you didn't eat it. If you wanted something else, you brought it from home. The only real junk was the chocolate pudding. Everything else had at least some nutritional value, even though the green beans squeaked.

notajayhawk 4 years, 6 months ago

Do you have kids?

If the only thing the school served was healthy foods, I guarantee there'd be thousands of kids coming home every afternoon and raiding the refrigerator.

Melinda Toumi 4 years, 5 months ago

My kids can raid my fridge anytime - there certainly aren't any chips. Mmm strawberries.

Clevercowgirl 4 years, 6 months ago

I look at the school lunch menu, and think fat, fat, and more fat. Hot dogs, mac&cheese, cheese pizza, breaded chicken sandwich...the list goes on. Yes, there is salad, carrot sticks, and bananas, but how many kids eat them. I would like to see the main, hot dishes be healthier. Why not taco salad? Why not turkey meatloaf? Why not grilled chicken? I know, the chemical ridden, greasy, pre-fab food is cheaper. SAD is the acronym for "Standard American Diet". Hey, let's make sure that there are no birthday cupcakes in the school....that's against our healthy eating policy.

notajayhawk 4 years, 6 months ago

"Why not taco salad? Why not turkey meatloaf? Why not grilled chicken?"

Yeah, why not a bunch of starving kids in the afternoon who threw their entire lunch in the trash?

Clevercowgirl 4 years, 6 months ago

Nota, you have it wrong. That's what I see kids doing with what they serve now. seriously. Kids do know crappy food when they taste it.

notajayhawk 4 years, 6 months ago

See the LTE writer's comments in this thread about how many kids chose the potato.

whats_going_on 4 years, 6 months ago

I suppose they would quickly learn to eat it and enjoy it then, if they are starving, would they not?

notajayhawk 4 years, 6 months ago

Another entry from someone who either doesn't have kids or has forgotten how they acted when they were young.

They wouldn't be "starving" until later in the day, genius. You think a six-year-old's mind works that way, where they're going to remember the next day at lunch time how hungry they were the day before?

notajayhawk 4 years, 6 months ago

But then, you're so unique in many ways! ;)

Most of the people making comments about what they had to eat when they were in school (after walking 23 miles in a raging blizzard with no coat and bare feet, uphill all the way into a 50 mph wind) are the ones who b*, moaned, whined, complained, and screamed bloody murder about how awful the food was back then - and they're still* talking about how bad it was.

notajayhawk 4 years, 6 months ago

Mine won't.

I agree, incidentally, that school lunches were healthier then. That's because food in general was healthier then. We didn't have the options of massed-produced nacho cheese and such. We ate what was put in front of us when we were kids because 1) we didn't have the options we have today and 2) that's what all the other kids were eating, at school and at home and when they went out. I just think it's completely unrealistic to try to get children to adopt a set of dietary choices that's so far removed from mainstream societal norms.

grammaddy 4 years, 6 months ago

It depends on how you raise them. If you give a child junk food options and he sees his parents opting for junk, he will too.My house has always been a "junk free" zone.We were psuedo vegetarians for a long time when the kids were young and they've always eaten healthy here. Now, they've passed that on to their kids. By psuedo vegetarian I mean we only ate fish or chicken and then only a couple times a week. No red meat or pork and mostly fresh fruits and vegetables. No processed foods.

notajayhawk 4 years, 6 months ago

And again, you must be so much fun for the grandkids to visit.

grammaddy 4 years, 5 months ago

So much fun that 4 of them live with me. What's with the sarcasm?

notajayhawk 4 years, 5 months ago

Sorry, it was an off-handed comment with no real basis or justification and I apologize. I have no reason to doubt that you care deeply for your grandkids, and they you, and that you take excellent care of them. It was unfair and unjustified to suggest anything to the contrary and again, I apologize.

ferrislives 4 years, 6 months ago

I also visited my son once a week at lunch a few years back, and couldn't believe what they were served on a daily basis. They did have a small salad bar, which consisted of lettuce, tomato slices, broccoli, and pre-packaged dressing. But there were no other alternatives to what was served there. And don't even get me started on the pre-packaged peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Yuck.

I went to Schwegler for a time as a child, and they had an interesting system in which you could choose a tray or basket lunch. As a child, I thought that was very cool. But even so, what they served wasn't the best for us.

If we want to reverse the trend of obese and out of shape children in America, Americans need to rise up and expect more from the school districts when it comes to feeding our children. Until that day comes, my children will have lunches made at home.

Caesar_Augustus 4 years, 6 months ago

I agree, it is pretty sad the choices they have for lunch. If they don't like what is offered, they can pick a horribly made PB&J sandwich that does not fill the kid up.

We've gone back to periodically letting the kids take their lunch to school as well because the "choices" are apalling.

guavablues 4 years, 6 months ago

Having taught in the district for 30 years I have seen school lunches go downhill. It's a complicated problem that is explained well in a CNN news release from today. I recommend watching it at http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/09/29/school.food.investigation/index.html?npt=NP1

mr_right_wing 4 years, 6 months ago

.....and that's only what they're taking in physically!!

You didn't mention the real crime of what is being fed into their minds.

Now the important question Melinda; are you motivated enough to change things that this will go beyond a LTE? School board and/or superintendent visit perhaps? Get active in the PTA/PTO if not already? Did you meet with the principal before you left to share your concerns, or were you too busy composing this letter in your head?

There are still people out here crying out for 'vouchers' and who fully support home schooling. I encourage you to act, but with the economy the way it is...and how long these things have been going on...the public school system may be beyond saving.

(Please, parents band together and make me say "Mr. Right Wing" was WRONG on this one!!)

nativedaughter 4 years, 6 months ago

I ate lunch with my nephew one day last year... The lettuce from the salad bar was brown and slimy! I couldn't eat it. It IS appalling.

Sad, but true, that some parents don't have time to sit down with their kids for lunch at school or pack homemade lunches. Many parents are busy working, helping with homework at night and just trying to make ends meet.

I implore all school board members to commit to eatting these meals for one month... We'll see how priorities change after that.

nativedaughter 4 years, 6 months ago

Oops. Perhaps I need to go back to school... I want the school board members to be EATING these meals!

formerlyanonymous 4 years, 6 months ago

The public school system is well beyond saving. It is fundamentally broken, and has been for some time. This letter only addresses yet another issue with the system. The lunches are horribly lacking in proper nutrition; it's essentially all highly processed food. Sadly, the school lunch program may be the easiest thing to fix in public schools.

I wish that we could get some of our tax dollars back to pay for homeschooling materials, as is done in other states. Still, we scrimp and sacrifice in order to live on one salary and to buy materials so that I can teach our children at home.

kansanbygrace 4 years, 6 months ago

Public schools are being "saved" all over the country. Parental involvement is a critical first step. Visit the school, talk with the teacher, eat the lunch.
Second is PTA, to find out how many of the rest of us are equally "up to here".
Then tell the principal and the president of the school board what you find that's good and what you find that's bad and make a suggestion to improve one thing. Then send it in a letter. Elect experienced teachers to the school board and hold their feet to the fire.
The public schools are ours, the government belongs to us, too. If we are too lazy to discipline our employees, then we get what we deserve.

sciencegeek 4 years, 6 months ago

kansanbygrace-- Your response may make good sound bites, but it shows no understanding of reality.

Parental involvement--are you kidding? If there was adequate parental involvement, we wouldn't HAVE such a mess!

The public school system is exactly and precisely what parents have demanded. No discipline? "My Johnny could never have been at fault!" Falling test scores? "My kids are too tired after soccer, gymnastics and video games to do homework." Can't read? "Schools must teach respect, anti-bullying, personal responsibility, consumer ed, sex ed, diversity and sports because it isn't being taught to OTHER KIDS at home, and don't you dare lengthen the school day!" Kids won't eat anything but junk food at school? "Don't force my kid to eat nutritious food--I don't."

School teachers can't serve on school boards unless they quit teaching. And before you start disciplining employees, give them the chance to discipline their students for a change!

notajayhawk 4 years, 6 months ago

True, I always relish the memories I think I have of the old days ...

independant1 4 years, 5 months ago

Sixties? Our teachers got special meals at their table.

Our school cafeteria baked their own bread and rolls. The schools received discount gov't surplus food stuffs. Like butter and cheese, real butter and cheese. Rather fattening stuff? Also remember one year when the cafeteria got hold of surplus hot dogs, fish hot dogs. Yup, lips and findogs we called them.

Not everything was gross, especially the fresh bread and cinamin rolls, cakes and pies. Me? I pocketed my lunch money $.30 per day $1.50 a week. Would sneak a PBJ, wrapped in wax paper into my pocket before school and became rich at an early age. Would leave school at lunchtime. Yes we could go home for lunch then.

The best food is prepared at home. Pork brains and scrambled eggs with homemade biscuits. Bacon? too expensive. Beef liver and onions, chicken hearts/livers/gizzards were my mom's favorites. The cousins pork/beef summer sausage was the best!

Of course we did eat some standard fare. Mom's gulash (elbow mac with hamburger and home canned tomatos) spagetti with meatsauce, canned greenbeans/wax beans.

When we did pack a school lunch we saved our brown paper bags and used them uphill bothways all week.

MaryKatesPillStash 4 years, 6 months ago

Has anyone seen any empirical evidence regarding obesity rates and eating at school vs. bringing a lunch? I graduated from high school in 2002, and I've had a theory for years now that the "skinny people" in our class were those who regularly brought his/her lunch, and those with "weight issues" were those who purchased meals from school. It would be an interesting study.

Kontum1972 4 years, 6 months ago

my mom always made our lunches all four of us...we never bought school lunches,,,we saved money and we had great lunches, the only thing we bought was milk at the lunch counter. The time has come when u should decide whether you are going to be the problem or whether you are going to be the solution....think about it...

Dolly Madison and Hostess cupcakes and pop and chips is not lunch,,,,thats dessert..

gccs14r 4 years, 6 months ago

And who came up with the idea that every meal needs dessert? Dessert should be something that happens after dinner on Saturday.

workinghard 4 years, 6 months ago

And for heaven's sake, look at the nutrition label on that Lunchables package before you put it in their lunchbox. True story---Went to a nutrition talk for sports parents one time. A well dressed, educated looking mother stood up and commented that she tried to feed them things that were good for them She gives the Fruit Rollups instead of candy or cookies for snacks. I don't know how the nutritionist kept a straight face when she commented on that one.

independant1 4 years, 5 months ago

Dentists really heart them fruit rollups.

kansanbygrace 4 years, 6 months ago

Our school lunch dietitian was also our town's best caterer. The only difference between what we ate and what the Country Club got for their banquets was that ours came partly from commodity sources from FDA. She got a special deal on produce directly from the supplier, who still profited from the sale. Our menus were diverse and delicious, and no one dared disappoint Mrs. Flowers, who was also the nicest person on earth. There was one guy who looked fat. He was also all-state lineman. Guess that wasn't fat. We ate well, and it was less than a Macdiscus and Flies.

notajayhawk 4 years, 6 months ago

And the kids could say hello to the milkman and the diaper delivery man on their way down the sidewalk ...

deec 4 years, 5 months ago

My Aunt had a diaper service in the 1960's, and we briewfly had a milkman in the mid-late 1960's as well.

notajayhawk 4 years, 5 months ago

Kinda' my point - a lot of things have changed in the last 50 years.

Clevercowgirl 4 years, 6 months ago

Here's another thought on those fatty lunches. I wonder how many grams of fat in two lunches. That is how much a boy on a growth spurt eats. Soooo....$4.20/day for 40 grams of fat?

somedude20 4 years, 6 months ago

I like how soy chicken patties were dirt cheap and were a staple of 1st-12th grade cuisine but now those soy patties costs $5

Julie Craig 4 years, 6 months ago

Most school districts have cut the cafeteria budgets and staff hours to the bone so part of the blame goes to the state legislature and our local administrators for making those cuts to balance the budget. The cooks no longer have time to actually cook a meal from scratch so the pre-packaged stuff is what our kids get. It is true that many children don't choose the vegetable or fruit from the menu. Back in the day, we didn't have a choice and the principal made us take 3 bites of everything.... Even the lima beans. :)

notajayhawk 4 years, 6 months ago

Well, of course it's the evil Republican state legislature's fault. Isn't everything?

Maybe if they spent less money on football fields they'd have more to spend on lunch.

Incidentally, everyone uses pre-packaged 'stuff' these days, including almost all restaurants, not just because it's cheaper, but for a variety of other reasons.

Melinda Toumi 4 years, 5 months ago

The quality of food is very very poor. Nacho cheese that was served is not even a food, it's a "food product". How can that even be legal? It's not even food.

grammaddy 4 years, 6 months ago

I still make the kids take a "no thank you" bite of anything they haven't tried before or anything else on their plates. How do you know you don't like it if you don't try it? When the kids were in pre-school, that was the rule so I adopted it.

1029 4 years, 6 months ago

At least they weren't eating opossum sandwiches, or pinecones. I wouldn't complain about Lawrence school lunches. Some people would love to get to eat chips and cheese for lunch.

bse007 4 years, 6 months ago

Please attend Our Local Food Fest to support school gardens and learn how to change this!!!! Friday October 1st @ Liberty Hall. TOMORROW NIGHT, 6 PM!!!! http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Our-Local-Food-Fest/103766816353777

scopi_guy 4 years, 6 months ago

1974 school lunch staple in Jefferson County, KS:

Baloney Boat

Comprised of:

Slice of baloney, fried until the edges are burnt so they curl up. Topped with an ice cream scoop of instant mashed potatoes. Topped with a square of orange "cheese". This floated on a pond of brown liquid that I guess was gravy.

I can't even think about the "Meat Blanket" that was served.

independant1 4 years, 5 months ago

That was my choice for my first Thanksgiving dinner away from home (but add one clove). Had Spam for xmas dinner same year (add brown sugar and one clove).

trinity 4 years, 5 months ago

LOLOL oh scopi, my junior high&high school had baloney boats too! agh! i can't even tolerate the idea of fried baloney...ugggggggggggh. however, my elementary school was a whole 'nother ballgame; two wonderful lunch ladies, one german one hispanic; talk about EATING. oh dear gawd. those ladies fed us SO well! :) that's where i learned to LOVE sour kraut. with real mashed taters. and some kind of sausage dealies in 'em. mmmmmmmmmmm.

Sigmund 4 years, 6 months ago

Since when did you expect a Federal Government funded program run by local union members to do quality work? If you want your kids to have a good education, a nutritious lunch, and proper discipline, then send them to a private school.

Deb Engstrom 4 years, 6 months ago

Somehow a whole lot of kids have eaten school lunches over the years and have survived. If you don't like what they're serving, pack a lunch and stop complaining. My kids know that if they want a meal at noon it will be school lunch until they're old enough to pack their own or leave campus to get something else.

gatekeeper 4 years, 5 months ago

Why do you refuse to pack your children a healthy lunch and force them to eat junk?

Kids may survive eating junk. Crack heads can survive smoking rock each day too. Doesn't mean it's good for them.

You decided to have kids, but don't want to make sure they eat healthy meals?

These are the problems with so many of today's parents. They want kids, but don't want the burden of caring for them.

Sarah St. John 4 years, 6 months ago

Just thought I'd throw this in. And no, I don't know why they said Monday through Saturday when there were only Mon-Fri lunches. Just thought you'd like to see the comparison to what the kids were being offered to eat 40 years ago. (Also, cool that the days of the week lined up with the dates so exactly.... this year, Mon through Sat is also 9/28 through 10/2. But I digress....)

(Published in the Journal-World on Sat., Sept. 26, 1970) LUNCHEON MENU for SCHOOL CAFETERIAS Unified District 497 Mon., Sept. 28 thru Sat., Oct. 2 [1970]

MONDAY Orange Juice Hot Dog Potato Puffs Pear Half Milk Fudge Cake

TUESDAY Barbecued Beef Sandwich Seasoned Green Beans Red Gelatin with Fruit Milk Refrigerator Pie

WEDNESDAY Beef Tips in Brown Gravy over Mashed Potatoes Tossed Salad Roll Milk Spice Cake with Butterscotch Frosting

THURSDAY Meat Loaf or Meat Balls with Tomato Sauce Seasoned Corn Cole Slaw with Carrots Milk Cinnamon Roll

FRIDAY Orange Juice Chicken with Noodles Cheese Stick Buttered Peas Peach Half Milk Cookie or bar

scopi_guy 4 years, 6 months ago

Seasoned green beans Seasoned corn

Seasoned = salt?

I ate school lunch for most of my years going to school here, and while they weren't 4 star dining experiences, I don't remember anything being just horrible. We never had chips or anything like that, but there always was a dessert (those cinnamon rolls were wonderful). There was always a hot vegetable served, it seems. A lot of kids would stuff them into their empty milk cartons, though. You always knew who did that because their milk carton would go THUD when tossed in the trash. I usually ate most everything...except the green beans. I've never been able to stand them. Even the smell of them cooking tests my gag reflex.

gccs14r 4 years, 6 months ago

When I was in grade school, there was an adult monitoring what went in the trash. A thud would have been investigated and the kid hauled off to the office for wasting food. I hated the lima beans (green blackboard chalk, that's what they were) , but I ate them because the paddle was worse.

scopi_guy 4 years, 5 months ago

Yep, my older brother and sister at Jeff West had that adult monitoring too. When we moved to Lawrence they didn't have that here by the mid 70s. But I had my own monitoring system: My mom telling me I'd better eat everything on my lunch tray...or else. I actually thought she'd know somehow until I got into about the 3rd grade. My sister just couldn't eat cooked spinach and one day, that was on the menu. They had some vinegar in a decanter and the teacher patroling the lunch room thought putting some of that on the spinach would make it more appealing. Didn't work.

Practicality 4 years, 6 months ago

You guys miss the point entirely. School food costs money. School districts don't have any money. Hence, the food that is chosen is based on price and what a kid WILL eat. So, instead of railing at the school for serving poor food, either make your kid a lunch or get a MUCH higher budget for food, which will increase taxes. My guess is most people will do neither, because it is easier to just do nothing and think the school is responsible for everything.

grammaddy 4 years, 6 months ago

And fresh fruits and vegetables or cooking"from scratch" is still cheaper than the processed crap they feed our kids.

gccs14r 4 years, 6 months ago

Yep. Have to hire people who can actually cook, though, and not just heat up cans of stuff.

Practicality 4 years, 5 months ago

Which is where the cost will sky rocket.

mr_right_wing 4 years, 6 months ago

Uuhh... Excuse me.... Guys...??

I don't believe our local schools have any kind of policy barring kids from bringing their own 'healthy' lunches. (Just don't include any kind of sharp object, like a knife or fork = weapon = expulsion) It shouldn't be that much trouble if your kids nutrition is that important to you. (No lunch boxes that are even remotely patriotic either = insensitive to temporary- non-Americans.)

Ok, forget the no trouble part.....

Maxwell Butterfield 4 years, 5 months ago

Oh, hush. Don't ruin the valid point you tried to make.

smercer 4 years, 6 months ago

Blue Valley SChool secondary school lunch - $2 per meal. Includes choice of entree and unlimited fresh fruit and vegetable bar and two drinks. Details and menu here: http://www.bluevalleyk12.org/education/components/album/default.php?sectiondetailid=39606&&PHPSESSID=bdeb5682b99fa26aa4424d45109d9a57

Lawrence school secondary school lunch - $2.45 per meal. Choice of entree OR salad bar. One drink.

If the school lunch program has $800,000 in savings, it sounds like they either have been charging too much or cheaping out on the food.

sniff16 4 years, 5 months ago

Do you know what the average income for a Blue Valley family is? It is significantly higher than that of a Lawrence family.

smercer 4 years, 6 months ago

And check out this picture of a salad bar in a neighboring district. Heaps of grapes, strawberries, sliced cucumbers, fresh spinach, whole fruit (peaches?), sliced tomatoes. http://www.bluevalleyk12.org/education/components/scrapbook/default.php?sectiondetailid=2090&

gphawk89 4 years, 6 months ago

One more (of many) reasons we're going to home-school...

lawrencechick 4 years, 6 months ago

I only let my kids eat at school maybe once a week. Mainly because I couldn't afford it, but also because most of the menus do sound unhealthy. Yes, my husband and I are exhausted after work, but it's worth it to make your kids lunch instead of depending on the school.

workinghard 4 years, 5 months ago

And to stir the pot, I really thought the newly remodeled McD's would have a kid's play area since it looked bigger. I guess east Lawrence people must drive to far west Lawrence to McD's if they want the kid's to be able to play. The kid's would be healthier if a playland had been added. One, they would have gotten exercise and two, have you ever gotten your kid to eat all his food before going to play? You throw half of it out.

Matthew Herbert 4 years, 5 months ago

seriously? How about taking your kids "outside" if they want to play. Or to a "park". Whining about how your kid can't get exercise at a McDonald's in East Lawrence is the worst parenting comment I've ever read on this board.

independant1 4 years, 5 months ago

Give them Peanut butter, Wonder Bread and whole milk. Everything else is a commie plot.

GardenMomma 4 years, 5 months ago

I make two lunches every morning and it takes me less than fifteen minutes. My kids eat their breakfast and I make their lunches and we chat about the upcoming day. I know they have had a good breakfast and have a good lunch packed.

Yes, if schools only gave healthy options there's a chance that kids won't eat the lunch, but once or twice of being hungry will cure that. If the only choice is healthy food or no food, I'm betting kids will eat the healthy food.

Irenaku 4 years, 5 months ago

I have packed my kids lunch since he began going to pre-school. That school lunch stuff is n-a-s-t-y. Watch Food Inc., read Fast Food Nation and Omnivore's Dilemma if you really want to be disgusted! Eat local, organic real food, it is the best!! I also have to add in regards to kids who don't like nutritious food, it is simply a matter of giving it to them as babies and they acquire the taste. My kid's first foods were organic spinah leaves out of our garden, blanched and drizzled with fresh garlic oil, grapfruit, broccoli, soy cheese and rice milk. He won't touch fast food and won't eat any meat that is not raised humanely, local and organic. If parents would quit feeding their kids junk as babies, they would not crave it as young kids/young adults.

pace 4 years, 5 months ago

Pack the lunch. Vote the snots and business creeps off the the school board, Morgan, Loveland, Eat lunch with your kids more often. I don't find the fact that some of the kids aren't high functioning a distraction I don't think one should judge how functioning someone is in regard to rather they are served wholesome food or not. I am glad my child had friends of many functioning levels. Sorry you must of missed that opportunity. Most school lunches are not balanced meals, the schools aren't required to serve balanced meals. Make that a requirement by working with the school board, don't just pop in, tell them what to do, and then disappear in front of your tv.

Scott Morgan 4 years, 5 months ago

A couple of points. 1. The meals, breakfast and lunch are reasonably priced and in fact often healthy and tasty. Stop in and see for yourself.

  1. Right here in River City, this free or, next to free food taken in by some of our communities youth is by far the best meals they receive. I often shudder to think of the weekend without them.

Sherry Warren 4 years, 5 months ago

We pulled our child from public schools in the area for three reasons: 1) he (as a 6th grader) was sick and tired of all the attention being focused on getting "underperforming" students to pass tests, 2) our understanding of the subsidization of farmers which is putting garbage in our students stomachs at breakfast and lunch, and 3) we were in a position to do so, unlike so many others who do not have the resources to take advantage of other ways to educate one's children. Our education system needs a major overhaul, and NCLB was not it.

Matthew Herbert 4 years, 5 months ago

maybe we could re-elect Ronald Reagan so he will allow ketchup to qualify as a vegetable in school lunches.

notajayhawk 4 years, 5 months ago

Ah, aren't urban myths wonderful?

The USDA - not the White House - made various proposals to allow for some substitutions for the traditional 5-item approved lunches that qualified for reimbursement under the school lunch program. Several people in the USDA who were working on those standards kicked around the idea of allowing such items as ketchup to be counted as a vegetable as an ingredient. Others expanded on that line of thinking to include it when used as a condiment, mostly as a way to prevent waste - i.e., they figured at least kids would eat the ketchup instead of throwing away the lima beans. The proposed regulations were never enacted and the person who came up with them was 'reassigned'.

However, in some places, it is still counted that way. You see, the traditional 5-item (including 2 vegetables) lunch is not the only way to meet USDA guidelines for lunches. There is also the nutritional approach rather than the item (or ingredient or food group) approach, which essentially gives minimum standards (e.g. a minimum number of calories, maximum percentage of calories from fat, minimum percentage of RDA for various vitamins, etc.), leaving it entirely up to the local school districts as to how those requirements are met.

But hey, let's blame Ronald Reagan for the cr*ppy lunches served to kids that were born decades after his administration came to an end.

notajayhawk 4 years, 5 months ago

By the way, I do agree that counting ketchup as a vegetable is ridiculous.

Being as how tomatoes are fruit, not vegetables.

bearded_gnome 4 years, 5 months ago

I'm a mom, nurse, and now a chemist, so of course I noticed who was eating what. And my kids love it when I talk to their friends at school.

---and now the LTE writer thinks she's a highly trained behavior assessment specialist too!

and, and expert on ADHD. psychiatrist? ...


good job Notajay ADHD is far too often diagnosed. you forgot: disturbed Object Relations for kids often results in kids who resemble ADHD kids. yeah, I know, you sorta generally referred to OR about "home" above.
hmmm, you suppose Ms. Toumi even knows what in tarnation is meant by Object Relations?
... thought not.

in fact, I wonder about the OR for her own child, who has helicopter parents visiting her school, and daddy has to eat chips so he can "experience" it with her?

gatekeeper 4 years, 5 months ago

As a former teacher, I can tell that it is appreciated when parents visit the school. You shouldn't chastise parents for being involved in their children's lives and education. Most parents aren't involved and it's a major problem with today's youth and their education. I would encourage all parents to visit thier kids schools on a regular basis.

And it is easy to see that what a kid eats affects their performance and behavior. All you have to do is observe.

bearded_gnome 4 years, 5 months ago

Wissmo, if parents aren't feeding the kids properly weekdays or weekends, there's a good term for that: "neglect!" no, stop calling on bigger and bigger government to fix personal irresponsibility!!!

if a parent is neglecting his or her children then bring the law.


I make two lunches every morning and it takes me less than fifteen minutes. My kids eat their breakfast and I make their lunches and we chat about the upcoming day. I know they have had a good breakfast and have a good lunch packed.

---shocking! just shocking I say.

when I was in high school, more than 30 years ago, mostly the food was good.

*however, there was [gasp, insert vampire music] "mystery meat" in things like burritos.

so, our way to cope with that: some of us would all chip in and buy one of the "mystery meat" burritos. where I grew up was not far from the coast (of monterey bay) so we would set our "test" "mystery meat burrito" out on top of the amphitheater (which was outside). we would then watch for the inevitable sea gull to hit the burrito.

if the test gull ate the test burrito and flew away, then we knew it was okay to eat it ourselves.

notajayhawk 4 years, 5 months ago

Thanks, Py, for posting the actual menu of what was available. I notice the LTE writer, in her subsequent comment to this thread, even noted that her own child ate the chips instead of one of the other offerings. But it's the school's fault, right?

Melinda Toumi 4 years, 5 months ago

The point is that chips and nacho cheese and sugared milk are food products, not healthy food, and should not even be "offered". It's a poor use of tax dollars and a ruse to neglect poor children. And it's Dr Toumi, not Ms.

Kris_H 4 years, 5 months ago

I don't know, a teacher in my elementary school stood over me and tried to force me to eat slimy canned apricots...once. I sat there with my lips closed all through noon recess, and she finally had to give up when it was time to go back to class.

Is there some way to get the more unhealthy choices off the menu? I know kids who won't drink milk unless it's sugared and flavored, and I'm sure not many kids would choose the salad bar and the broccoli, especially with the factor of peer group pressure. We didn't have many choices; the servers put stuff on our trays and we were expected to eat it.

Of course, that was a jillion years ago in a tiny small-town school. And I stll don't eat slimy canned apricots.

ivalueamerica 4 years, 5 months ago

Yet no one is ready to pay taxes to support the schools or elect politicians who value school funding over Corporate welfare.

We get what we vote for. If we want our schools to do better, fund them.

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