I was confused after reading the article about how new changes in school lunch requirements will impact our local schools. Food service workers commented on how a la carte items such as boiled eggs and salads would no longer be options for students and implied that the overall quality of foods being offered would not improve.
I have two children in a Unit 5 junior high school and the a la carte items being offered to them everyday include chips, cookies, brownies, rice crispy treats, muffins, pie and ice cream. Standard fare seems to emphasize low fiber, high fat, processed and preserved foods with an extremely high sugar content. My children have never seen boiled eggs in the lunch line and bread choices contain little or no whole grains.
Interestingly, fruit juices and milk are included in the cost of lunch but water costs extra. Contrary to what I teach at home, my children now see processed, high-fat, high-sugar, white-flour diets as the social norm. While the situation in elementary schools seems better, the breakfast offerings are worrisome. The healthiest choice my youngest child can find at her elementary school is cereal with 3 grams of sugar and less than 1 gram of fiber. Served with low-fat milk, this isn't too bad of an option, but she loses her appetite as the children around her eat chocolate cereal doused in chocolate milk.
While I'm hesitant to complain about free programs, I have to question the benefit of sending our most at-risk children off to class with little more than a sugar-high. It's unfortunate that the state's attempts to improve children's diets may be bureaucratic and sometimes counter-productive, but the desperate need for regulation is a direct result of the types of foods school districts are currently offering.