Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Oh My

I just read this post from Crystal Cattle's blog, and it lead me to read this article from the Chicago Tribune. And it lead me to form this opinion:

When has it become okay for the public school to make every decision for a child, and take out all responsibility for a parent?

As a former teacher, I feel like I'm pretty in-tune with what's going on at my daughter's school. I know what questions to ask, what to look for if she starts to slip, what "social" really means when it's addressed at parent/teacher conferences. However, that is by my own doing...and my daughter's teacher's lovely, detailed, weekly newsletter. It is MY (and Joe's) to read nightly with her. It is MY job to check her papers, ask her questions about her day, and drag out any (seemingly) minute detail of the day. However, according to my teacher friends still in the biz, there are a lot of state and district and even federal programs that have been implemented that are taking away a teacher's ability to just teach (in some cases), and, in my opinion, let the parent do a parent's job. It is important to me to trust my daughter's teacher, as I tend to hope that you would trust my farmer husband, but shouldn't parents be able to decide with their kids things like what they eat for lunch?

This is getting ridiculous.

My blogging friend, Crystal, makes a really good point about how this may affect the agriculture industry in the long run. She writes, "When will the school district decide that they should adopt Meatless Mondays, because someone fancies it will be a good idea?"

Good point.

What about the kids with special food allergies? I read that some of the concern was that the kids were wasting food, but isn't offering one choice that the kids already don't like defeat this purpose? How are test scores supposed to meet state and federal guidelines and standards when kids are hungry, left with no choice but one during lunch time.

My father-in-law would call this "ignorance gone to seed." My husband says its just another example of how our society believes that we are sheep without a shepherd, unable to make our own decisions about basic needs.

We have a pretty good relationship with Anna's lunch choices. She makes them based on what's offered, and while Joe some times disagrees with this, I believe that we are allowing her to make a big girl choice, but I still ultimately get the say in what's put in her tummy that day. Joe's experience with school lunch was essentially catering. His cooks lovingly prepared a family dinner for its roughly 35 students. I went to a bigger school, and had a little worse food, so I had the option to bring my lunch when I didn't want to eat chipped beef on toast. I had a choice, and although kids in my school didn't always make the best choice, I don't attribute their weight gain on the fact that they were able to bring Doritos in their lunch.


Doesn't this almost sound funny? I am trying to be educated on this, and know as much as I can, but it's almost ridiculous how one little thing can lead to more and more mandates that will take the parents' responsibility out of schooling their kids and will cause a big, big problem in the long run.

Read this article in the Tribune. Read Crystal's post, and let me know what you think. Maybe I'm just too sensitive about food, kids, and school!


  1. I was horrified in recent years when there was discussion of teachers checking childrens' lunchboxes daily to see what they were eating. As a parent I take the daily task of fueling my children very seriously and most certainly don't require the 'state' to step over the line into this area. To think that I was not allowed to provide their daily lunches is a notion I can't begin to comprehend.
    I know there are 'bad' parents out there, but don't tar everybody with the same brush.
    We Australians have a propensity for following the USA ... I hope not in this instance.

  2. I too, had heard about this issue. I listen to out of Chicago everyday and they have been talking about this issue on various shows, and it seems to be pretty universally panned by the public. There might be a place for uniforms and such in schools, but I really hate it when gov't steps in and starts telling people what we need to eat. Toys out of Happy Meals in San Francisco, other places are trying to cut salt. Everyone pretty well knows what a decent diet is, and it should be there choice whether they want to have one or not.

  3. I certainly agree it's extreme, but an article I read detailed the fact that many children were bringing soda and Happy Meals to school for lunch, as well as full sized candy bars. My guess is that it is easier to ban brown bags than to ban the offending foods and require staff to pilfer through all those bags to be sure everyone is following the rules. And kids with food allergies are still allowed to bring their own lunches.
    All that said, I DO still agree it's a bad rule. If what we've seen in Jamie Oliver's "Food Revolution" is even partially true, school lunches are really no better than Mr. McDonald's own kitchen. And who wants to budget $2.25 per meal per day for cafeteria food? Suddenly glad I stopped with three kids...
    I love the conversation around it all - thanks for bringing attention to it Emily!

  4. A few weeks ago, I spent a day helping in a school kitchen - not my home district. On the menu were noodles boiled in water with barely a trace of turkey, mashed potatoes, corn, loads of butter, bread, and fruit cocktail. Tons of starches and fat. Surely they can do better than that?

    Styrofoam cups were used for high school portions, so students could grab what they wanted. This was done because the students usually just tossed away their fruit and corn if it was placed on their tray.

    Turkey rolls had been cooked the day before and put into the cooler. That morning they were pulled out and left at room temp for a period long enough to worry one of the cooks, who warned me not to eat the turkey. There were additional turkey rolls sitting in the cooler for a meal the following week.

    Styrofoam plates are generally used for the last wave of students at the school, because their are a limited number of trays.

    If only the money wasted on duplicate labor and disposable serving products was used to offer more nutritional food choices, the program would be so much better for the students.

  5. Some of the Indianapolis school systems were toying with the idea of starting Meatless Mondays in the schools. There was a big uproar, as you can imagine! I live far enough away from Indianapolis that, to be honest, I haven't followed up on what the final decision was, but last I heard it was not going to fly.