My small readership of only the half dozen of you lovely humans know that I tout and rant and rave about a healthy diet and clean food. Organic is tantamount for consumption in my house, if I cannot buy ALL organic I seriously have a small amount of guilt that runs through my obsessive compulsive mind that wishes to negate the effects of unclean food on my children. Yes, I am a bit extreme. My husband will be so happy that I am making such strides publicly about my OCD. Oh I digress early.
So the other day I took the opportunity to have lunch with my son. I do not do this often due to my work schedule and lately his behavior has become worrisome to me. I attributed some of this to poor eating habits (high sugar or carb foods and lower protein intake), and I know I can control what he puts in his body, or at least I can influence him in an educated and informed fashion where he will listen so I used the lunch date as my opportunity to have the food talk. While I know some of his behavior is in part to only having two weeks remaining in school, I have seen a trend prior to this onset of summer fever.
Knowing full well that the school lunch menu has been upgraded with the recent flyer’s we have seen and the boasting of a “salad bar” I took the opportunity to dine with my son and his fellow classmates. When in Rome right?
Shuffling into the school cafeteria it was like a cattle call with ropes and subdivisions for eating, ordering, and keeping the herd of children in line for the assembly of a meal. My son called his name so that his account could be debited and I then ordered the full lunch; soup, salad bar, juice and the meal for the day. I had an option between a mystery meat BBQ sandwich of sorts, “Burger Buddies” which were prepackaged and resembled White Castle sliders, and chicken strips. I opted for the item that looked semi-discernible and partially edible, chicken strips. Next I was offered “cheesy mash potatoes” by the lunch staff.
I stopped in my tracks in awe of the slop of shit being offered as food and a food product not only to my child but other children. The resemblance of orange, yellowish tinged drywall mud is what I thought these tasty bites looked to be, laying lukewarm in a stainless steel commercial serving pan. Politely I declined the “carbs” for my meal and moved along in the line. Choosing the 1% milk that I was pleasantly surprised to see offered. Progressing further into the line of food offerings I come across the “soup” offering which is not published near the warming unit in order to determine what exactly is being served for the day and upon inspection, I again declined to add to my menu of items to eat. Finally I end at the salad bar. I. am. breathless.
The only items of food I could clearly identify as edible, clean, and in pristine condition and something I would serve to my children and eat in mass quantities myself. Chopped romaine, iceberg lettuce, baby spinach, broccoli florets, slices of celery, slices of oranges, sliced heirloom tomatoes, all gleaming and shiny, brightly colored, but not wilty, and all screaming EAT ME. I then did what any right minded human would do is load up on this in mass quantities, untainted by salad dressing. I could not damage these beauties in their natural state and was as I said, breathless, and beside myself that this is the only food items that could be identified without question.
Sadly, there was plenty to go around and my fear was that this food was going to be thrown out, while the mystery meat food items would be saved to serve at a later date, even more worrisome. What was even more pathetic was the lack of the education staff eating these same foods being served to the children. I watched closely as they all retreated to the “lounge” to circle amongst their kin or retreat to eat something other than what was being served to the very children they educate each and every week day. Adding injury to insult were those who were the overseers in the cafeteria sipping on their Starbucks branded lattes and what not.
I continued to eat and enjoyed what I thought to be a safe choice for a school lunch option and I watched my son dig into his “burger buddies” and then we had a conversation about how it tastes good but the food was not really good for him. A prepackaged burger “meal” which after some research I found were HUGE in the 80s as a Burger King spin-off product in public schools, still being offered today.
My son’s lunch mate and loosed lipped little girl who had rather quite a bit to say for saying nothing at all tapped my shoulder and said, “LOOK! See all that grease…” As she squeezed her mystery meat BBQ sandwich that oozed levels of grease and oil that could lube any anal tract before a good colonoscopy. I wanted to vomit, giggle like this little girl at the sight of the filth permeating from the mystery meat, and scream and throw a tantrum and ask everyone what the fuck they were thinking that the food these children were eating was acceptable. Moreover I could not fathom that any EDUCATOR and those fit to oversee the education and mental growth and capacity of my children did not have enough where with all and knowledge to know that the “food” these children were consuming was basically a candy coated version of fast food.
But we all know that soda machines and lack of physical education is the reason for obesity right?
Let me further add this to the mix. Lunch begins at 11:50 for my second grader, of which they do not always arrive right at 11:50 to eat, thus he is shorted time to eat. At about 8 minutes after 12 the lights went dark in the cafeteria and the aids put up two fingers as if to signal the kids. I leaned over to my son and asked what this was about and he said, “We have to be quiet and finish our lunch and go outside to recess so we have to hurry.”
Since when did the elementary school lunch system become similar to the military where these kids were commanded to shovel their food before running drills. I mean seriously, I wasn’t even done eating and by the looks of my plate I really did not have much on my plate, but yet had to shovel. Not to mention I didn’t even drink much of my milk, so I chugged that and moved along with the second grade cattle. But not before catching a glimpse at the other children who were forced to hurry themselves with their beverage and rather than being afforded the opportunity to drink it they had to pour their remaining milk box into a giant bucket. Again I said WHAT THE FUCK. Gallons upon gallons of milk in this bucket, only to be wasted by being washed down a sewer trap or drain. The silver lining here…..they recycle the milk cartons.
Are you angry yet? Shaking your head? Needless to say, I am typing this post to share my disdain. To share in the fact that we need to make a difference with our schools and our educators and those who make decisions on behalf of our children’s futures because this does not just include the classroom but the entire educational experience. I for one will be making sure to pack his lunches to not only save extra money each month but to also control what my child eats and that I know he is getting a nutritional lunch based on common sense standards and not some bogus food pyramid where supporting fast food is accepted and widely hidden to the parents the true details of what is really in our kids school lunch program. How about some transparency Mesa Schools? How about some real change in spite of cut backs, let’s cut the butterfly releases, growing meal worms, and bullshit education and institute health education at it’s finest starting with basic foods and not over-processed, grease injected byproducts passed off as a protein source.
What are your kids eating for school lunch?