School Hunger and the Cafeteria Controversy

My friend’s email subject line caught my attention: You Won’t Believe What Happened Now. Janice has two school age kids and like many families she juggles her work schedule to get everyone out the door on time each morning. It isn’t easy. But it’s gotten a whole lot harder since—wait for it—the school lunch revolution.

She used to go online, put money in her kid’s lunch account and not think twice about it. They never complained. Well, sometimes they didn’t like the food, but it wasn’t often. Until this school year.

Now her son (who weighs more than Janice) is parceled out a paltry 500 calories for his high school noon meal. By the time mid-afternoon football practice rolls around he’s hungry and doesn’t have access to food until he gets home. By then he’s a hungry teenager (read: cranky and incorrigible).

Her elementary-aged daughter gets a slightly smaller ration and here’s the kicker—kids can’t share their food. Under the watchful eyes of the lunchroom monitor, no one can offer anything to anyone. Ever.

Janice listened to her kid’s complaints and looked at the lunch menu that was helpfully posted online. It looked healthy and inviting, but when she investigated further, the problem was the small servings and no one could ask for more.

Knowing that she wouldn’t get far changing the whole lunch program, Janice did what any well-meaning mom would do—she sent snacks for their lockers. So, when she received a call from her son’s school asking her to come in immediately, she couldn’t imagine what had happened.

There on the principal’s desk was contraband confiscated from her son’s locker. No, not drugs—but the pretzels and cheese snacks she’d sent. Oh, the crime of all crimes.

America, while childhood obesity is an issue, do we really need to have our school kids go hungry? We can’t expect their best academic performance when they aren’t fed enough. 

Janice now packs homemade lunches with the school’s strict requirements that her kids can’t share what’s inside. 

Is this about healthy eating or more control?

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