|Hey, teacher, leave us kids alone!
The school cafeteria has been the stuff of derision since time immemorial. When Dr. J. was a yout’ he learned pretty early after a hearty breakfast of oatmeal, orange juice and tea; that a Fluffernutter™, or, alternatively, a peanut butter and bacon sandwich, a juice box, and Tastykake™ cupcakes were all he needed to get through the day until he got home to a healthy and delicious meal handcrafted by an artisanal mom. In high-school, when mom was doing volunteer work at the school, she’d alternate bringing Dr. J. a hoagie and chips with said peanut butter sandwiches.
Dr. J. avoided the school cafeteria’s options, as while the lunch ladies were kind, sweet and grandmotherly, their industrial scale meals were largely not very tasty. Now some of his peers were excited about Pork Roll day, or Friday pizza day, and ultimately, after he graduated, they upgraded the cuisine, but it was too late for Dr. J.
Now, the Jedi Academy upgraded their cuisine two years ago, and it is pretty good. Good enough that parents are willing to eat there with their children, however the kids still tend to insist on mom and dad stopping somewhere for take out on the way. The Lil Medstudent will take 3-4 out of 5 meals a week at school, opting for a brown bag about once a week, however the Lil Medstudent has the palate of the late Kim Jong Il, and would, at most, take one meal per week there. The cafeteria has the challenge of making tasty and healthy meals for the kiddos on a budget without creating ‘meal fatigue.’ To do this, they have a 2 week cycle of meals and they pulled out their deep fryers. They also take suggestions. Every other Wednesday is ‘Breakfast for Lunch.’ Indeed, we do breakfast for dinner about once every other week at home. However, Lil Medstudent likes pancakes and Lil Resident likes french toast. Dr. J. put forward the suggestion to the cafeteria that they alternate pancakes and french toast as it should be cost neutral and keep the delicate palates from becoming bored, and they integrated it with much success.
|Pudding? Yeah, no. And yummy seitan instead of meat!
So this brings us to Mrs. Obama’s War on Big Kid™. As you know, the federal government subsidizes lunch programs at public schools across the nation. The FLOTUS has chosen as her cause childhood obesity. While Dr. J. has no problem with her promoting a cause, however, her ascerbic personality and ability to alienate half the nation during the 2008 election resulted in her attempts at the public relations approach have been less than successful with appearances on Sesame Street and the Disney Channel going over like a lead balloon with many of our nation’s children and their parents, she moved to a Guv’mint solution to the problem. Specifically in concert with the Department of Agriculture who administers the school lunch funds, she is determining the nature of the menus for schools whose meals are federally subsidzed. While Dr. J. is not in favor of a heavy handed federal presence in our nation’s public schools, he agrees with ‘Puter
, that if one is to accept federal funding, one is subject to the strings attached. In that sense, fair is fair. The Czar ably pointed out
in the past that the strings are sometimes fairly insidious.
One affluent Indiana school district
determined that $300,000 were wasted last year as a consequence of implementing the FLOTUS meal plan. Kids were throwing food away, not eating what was offered, and choosing to bring their own, or eat out.
But red Indiana isn’t the only state where folks are dumping Mrs. Obama’s menu choices in the trash. In Armani-Tuxedo-Navy-Blue New York
and even Illinois
the kids have also voted with their feet, however, in true blue state fashion, rather than brown bag it or eat out, they whine about being hungry as well.
Dr. J. agrees with the issue of portion restriction as a problem. While some kids could afford to miss a meal, student athletes have dietary needs substantially greater than what they are permitted under the FLOTUS’s restrictions. Dr. J., when he played soccer in high school would eat (calorically speaking) two dinners in season. and still remain a fit and trim as he was building and maintaining high turnover muscle mass throughout the season. His lunches were also a reflection of caloric demand. Similarly, many of the choices she recommended implementing won’t be touched by the students. Seriously, now that half portion fries and apples are included with every Happy Meal at McDonalds due to government intimidation
, how many apples go in the trash? Quite a bit.
To sum up, Dr. J. believes that schools are best run when the oversight is largely local. He does not disagree with some state input as states support their local schools. Furthermore, he doesn’t disagree with some sense of federal expectations of our educational system, as folks do move from state to state. But federal curriculum guidelines, if any, should largely be skeletal outlines that would fit on a few pages per grade, having reasonable expectations for vo-tech, standard and college prep tracks. Similarly, cafeteria decisions should be local as well.