When my oldest son was in first grade, I was such a better mom than I am now. Seriously, my skills have gone way down hill. It could be that I've relaxed or given up or just decided that with two kids in school, a preschooler and a toddler, I just don't want to do it, but I used to look at the school lunch menu and growl. Its horrible! Its canned, starchy non-nutritive puke. I'm not bashing the school system because they try. They slip in broccoli and cheese and an orange half or carrot sticks right and left, but that's not what the kids eat. I'm also not bashing the white bread families that are reading this blog. To each his own, its just not what I want MY kids to eat and damned if I'm not too lazy to pack. What this blog is really about is me, kicking myself in the pants for being a bystander and not doing something about it.
A long time ago, Nessa wrote a great blog about schools counting Jello as a fruit because it said strawberry and counting Hot Dogs as meat because it comes from and animal. It struck a chord with me. I've also signed the Jamie Oliver's petition to make school lunches more varied and healthier. You should too! Its a great thing. Kids will gripe and growl for awhile but eventually, we're offering them a chance to try new things. They will when their friends do it, its way kids work.Or, at least I think it is.
Maybe I'm lucky because my kids, for the most part are good eaters. Even if they don't like something, we have a three bite rule that they have to follow. Once to try it. Twice to taste it. Third time to make sure. After that, they don't have to finish it. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. But its the same thing the next time its served. Three bites. Eventually, they come around.
I found this FANTASTIC article on CNN today. Schools Struggle to Feed Kids Healthy Food . I don't get it. This isn't communist Russia. Its not the Irish Potato Famine. Its not the Great Depression. Its picky eaters and a society that has learned that faster is better. It a hideously underfunded subsidized program that runs far down the line from other necessary, but in my opinion, less important things. Sorry if I'm being blunt. Please don't feel like I'm pointing fingers, because its my problem too. We like convenience foods! They are cheap and easy and we like to over-schedule and hurry up in the U.S. of A. We like to rip open boxes and pour out of bags and forget the chopping and cleaning. I once heard, or read, that the longer it takes to actually make your food, the healthier it is. Its that act of cutting the fresh veggies and steaming them, etc that helps us appreciate what we're eating and keeps the nutritional value in it. Its the same as real cheese in your mac and cheese vs. the boxed kind that is often used to at my house.
So, riddle me this. I live in the corn belt. Most families have gardens and I'm surrounded by farms, but my kids food is being picked God knows where, processed and canned when it could be picked, cooked and served. I know that its not EASIER but it is healthier. The school lunch program in the US is severely underfunded. With a dump economy and the extra expenses having to be picked up by states and local school systems, change can't happen. But.... moms and dads work miracles every day. Take a look at what your kids are eating and check out the nutritional value, the sodium, the preservatives, etc. and then take a look at what you have in your fridge.
HA! So not my fridge. *Notice cleanliness and organization.*
Here is my challenge for you. Its not an easy one, or a convenient one, and its not JUST for you. I have to do it to. Let your kids pick their favorite lunch one day a week to eat at school. The other 4 days, pack. Its going to be a pain in the ass, but so are vaccinations, trips to the dentist and homework. You get my point, we suffer for our kids anyway, so five more minutes a day won't kill us and may just make them have to go to the doctor and dentist less.
Check this thing out. I'm getting 3 or them for the kiddos for Christmas. Awesomesauce people!