It's a good thing that I'm not a a public school student today--because I would probably starve to death. I say that after watching the workshop session the Oshkosh School Board held this week on the changes to Federal regulations dealing with the school lunch program.
Let me start by saying that for the first 6 and a half years of my schooling, I attended a small Catholic school in rural Manitowoc County that served hot lunch only one day a week--on Wednesdays. (And that day was the highlight of the week--as I got a break from peanut butter and jelly or bologna and cheese sandwhiches. To this day, I refuse to eat PBJ or any cold sandwiches because I got my fill as a child). So when my family moved and I attended a school that served hot lunch every day--I appreciated it more than kids who had grown up with it.
And I have always been a big eater--so seconds (and sometime even thirds, if it was something I really liked) were the norm, rather than the exception. But I had to eat a lot because in high school there was always a practice after classes or a game or a bike ride or pickup basketball in the driveway with friends or a backyard football game. And to make it to dinner with just one hamburger, or slice of pizza or chicken patty just wasn't going to cut it.
But under the requirements and regulations spelled out in Wednesday night's School Board workshop, my calorie and carbo-loading lunch routine is no longer allowed. The dietary experts in Washington have decided that children who eat hot lunch must have a calorie limit placed upon them. That means the 6'-3", 245lb Senior boy who plays offensive line on the football team is allowed the same amount of food as the 4'-9" 85lb Freshman girl sitting two tables over.
The control doesn't stop there. Each child at all grade levels will be required to take minimum amounts of fruits and vegetables on their tray as well. Do they actually have to eat them? No--we don't have the Food Police given permission to force-feed a six year old broccoli--but I'm sure that's the next step. And for elementary school kids, they will be greeted in the lunch room with a diagram showing them where each food item must go on their tray, so the lunch ladies know they are meeting the Federally-required mandates.
On the good side, kids won't have to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches like I had to. Those are basically banned because they contain too much sodium. The same goes for pickles--too much salt to put on a burger or serve as a side.
And the ultimate kick in the shorts for parents is that as schools feed their children less--they will have to pay more for it. The new Federal guidelines required increased school lunch prices--ostensibly to make up for the increased Free and Reduced Lunch Program participation brought on by the Obama Economy. Of course, that strategy is being undermined--according to Food Services Director Peggy West--by fewer kids from families that can pay cash for lunch opting out of the program and instead bringing their own meals or taking advantage of open campuses to go to Taco Johns.
I understand that some of the changes in the new requirements are meant to get kids eating healthier foods (something that is more than likely being undermined by cupboards and refrigerators full of junk food at home)--but to place one-size-fits all dietary requirements on kids of so many different sizes is just foolish and short-sighted.
But then again, "what's good for one is good for all" is the main tenet of the Collectivism beliefs of our current Federal Government.