I just finished reading an article in The Washington Post that has my gears going again. And since it's from The Post you can probably guess that you are about to see how political I get (when I get political).
The basic story is that the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has taken up some ad space in Union Station for posters advocating healthier school lunch choices. The problem is that they use the President's daughters to convey their message.
I won't even touch the idea that they used the President's children. They shouldn't have done it; it's a well known fact that Presidential children are off limits. Enough about that.
And of course I want healthier dining options offered in public schools. Do I think that it should be mandated that schools offer vegetarian and vegan choices? I'm not so sure. I understand that there are vegetarians and vegans and that their nutrition is just as important as everyone else's. I just don't think the public schools need to be charged with the financial obligations that will come with that.
I have never lived life as a vegetarian or vegan but I know from looking at my own grocery bill that produce (especially off season) is expensive. And that's just on a single home scale; not for a school of hundreds of children. I also know from running a child care center that keeping fresh produce in an industrial kitchen is challenging. Restaurants and grocery stores have fresh produce delivered daily. In the kitchen at the center, it was challenging just to keep apples and oranges (pretty hearty fruits) fresh for a week.
The protien options also pose a problem for me. Soy and nut products would have to be handled on completely seperate equipment from everything else. Nut allergies are rampant in public schools to the point that I can't even send a PB&J with my children because someone may accidentally touch their empty bag and go into an attack.
I appreciate that vegetarians and vegans want to be included in the spectrum. I just fear for the burden it will put on already strained public school budgets and staffs.
I previewed the school menu last year and this year during school orientation. I didn't particularly care for the options offered so I choose to buy two lunch boxes and pack my children's lunches. They get a fruit, veggie, sandwich, juice, string cheese, and a snack item. I pack a pretty darn healthy lunch (the teachers told me so) because I take the responsibility on myself. In my book, if you have a special lifestyle that you have chosen, then you should be willing to take the personal steps available to continue that. I don't think the government should mandate that other people accomodate you.
But that's just my two cents! Feel free to read the article for yourself and get back to me. But bring me a lunch when you get back, would ya?