Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What's for Lunch?

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?


Jenera said...

I don't think that the schools should have vegan options either for the very reasons you state. If a parent truly wants to put such limitations on their child's diet, then they should a lunch and not rely on the school for it. I think that applies for any parent though. If i don't want my son having anything fried, I should have to send a lunch with him that day.

Fer said...

This is the third thing I've read today regarding people feeling that their choices should be accommodated no matter what the cost. No, public schools should not have to provide vegan options for students. I do believe they should have to provide a well-balanced meal for the students, but if you don't like it - pack a bag. If you are going to go outside of the "norm" (and there will always be a norm... let's be real), then you have to accept that YOU have to make the adjustments, not society. If you are vegan, you're not always going to find vegan options everywhere you go. If you cloth diaper, you can't expect a daycare facility to accomodate that choice. If you chose to wrap your kid in bubble wrap and put a helmet on him, you can't expect the world not to think you are a nut. People drive me crazy. (and it's about bedtime, I'm already crazy)

Staci said...

I have to agree with you. The cost to the overall school would be ridiculous, just to accommodate a small number of kids.

I know my son is picky (and has allergies), so I'm going to be packing a lot in the coming years. If you have a special diet, you can't expect others to always cater to you.

I do wish schools would offer healthier items though. The fat, sodium, empty calories in a lot of the foods is awful. And they wonder why we have a weight problem in this country.