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School Lunch is Too "Healthy"

By Kacy Faulconer |

My kids eat school lunch. It’s affordable and convenient for my family. I’ve never had a problem with it, other than lamenting that they don’t actually make any food in lunch rooms anymore.

I used to love school lunch. You could smell the homemade rolls baking all day. What a treat. Now our school only thaws, assembles, and heats components of lunches. I’m confused as to why my favorite old-fashioned delicious school lunch of mashed potatoes, gravy, and a slice of turkey is less healthy than an Uncrustable served with carrot sticks that get thrown a way, but I’m not a registered dietician. And I’m a little partial to sodium and fat.

There are lots of initiatives these days to make school lunch healthier. My kids’ grade school has even won an award for it. That’s great, except my kids are coming home hungry every day. Has school lunch gotten too healthy?

My kids are many things–and not all of them flattering. But I can tell you objectively that they are not picky about food or overweight. They are active and healthy. They eat all of their school lunch and they think it is mostly tasty. But the lunches aren’t filling them up. It’s normal for kids to be hungry for an after-school snack, but since school started a few weeks ago my kids have been coming home starving after a day at school. Maybe because the portions are so small and the fat has been cut so much? My daughter plans to start taking a sack lunch in order to feel full. A home lunch that fills her up consists of a sandwich, yogurt, string cheese, and a juice box. That’s pretty typical, right? She has an aerobics class during the day that takes some energy, but it’s not like she’s carbo-loading in order to stay full.

I think it’s weird.

For a couple of years when the health initiatives were big–and they should be, it’s a good idea–they used to make us come up with a health goal at parent teacher conferences. I hate these goals anyway because they are sometimes fake and a pain to keep track of, but I understand why they do them. So in addition to math facts and handwriting and reading and staying on task goals, we had to add in “Ride my bike for 30 minutes” or “Run on the treadmill daily.”

Like I said, my kids are active and healthy. I understand the idea of these goals because obesity is a big problem, but I’m a lot more nervous about my pre-teen daughter becoming too focused on her weight. She runs and plays and does cartwheels and climbs trees. I kind of hated monitoring her treadmill use every day. I may have blown that one off a little.

Teachers have enough to worry about without having to also track my family’s weight. I’d much rather have my kids’ teachers focus on teaching my kids math. Let me deal with their weight and body image. Because I can do that. And I can’t do math. (Even though I’m not supposed to say that.)

However, I’m sure there are a lot of parents who appreciate the help of these health initiatives. I’m glad they are there to serve people who need and want them.

I know a lot of people who send homemade lunches with their kids in order to be more healthy. I’ll be sending them with lunches to fill my kids up more. People are different. We have different needs. That’s the trick of designing school policy, isn’t it? I’m telling you this in case you ever find yourself on the voting end of some of these health initiatives. If you could, if it is at all within the realm of your influence, could we PLEASE bring back those chocolate peanut butter brownies I used to eat in 5th grade? Because, seriously, those were amazing.

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About Kacy Faulconer

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Kacy Faulconer

I'm Kacy Faulconer. I'm your friend. Read more from me at Every Day I Write the Book. Read bio and latest posts → Read Kacy's latest posts →

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9 thoughts on “School Lunch is Too "Healthy"

  1. Layne says:

    I am so mad about the rolls. Now when I go into the school it just smells like that weird breading that falls off the frozen chicken nuggets. My kids eat cold lunch because I don’t think they need “strawberry” “milk” every day.

  2. Kacy Faulconer says:

    OH–and the government subsidized real butter! Those were the days, man.

  3. Carly says:

    Hear, hear! I miss those Grandview Elementary school lunches so much–not to mention doing the week of lunch duty. Wasn’t that the best time ever? Even as a picky kid, I always found something delish to eat for school lunch. I don’t remember health food being an issue back then, but the meals always seemed balanced. Those were simpler, thinner times, I guess. The new health initiatives are a good thing, of course, but it doesn’t seem good to have kids fainting at school because they only ate some raw carrots for lunch. Is protein so out of the question??

  4. Dede says:

    Absolutely amazing.
    My sons school started him extra if he didn’t take a fruit or veggie as “incentive”. Hah. They’ve apparently never met my son. He takes the fruit/veggie and then throws it away. What a waste.
    There is a reason I should own stock in the fruitable brand juice boxes.
    But whatever.

  5. Tamsin says:

    Not cool. Hopefully this is just the pendulum swinging the other way a little bit after years of tater tots and chicken nuggets, and things will settle back into a healthier middle ground where kids are getting what they need from lunch in every sense.

  6. cynthia says:

    I loved school lunches. I keep seeing the recipe for those oatmeal/peanut butter/ chocolate bar cookies flying around pinterest and I am dying to try it. When I was in middle school, the school board set up a deal with the pizza hut across the road and once a week, lunch was pizza hut pizza. It was awesome!!! Although I can’t imagine that happening now. I’m with you though. My boys come home hungry too, so we only do school lunches when it is something they want. Otherwise, it is stuff from home. I’m hungry now…

  7. Amy says:

    I get bothered when the government or school board thinks they can parent my children better than I can. No policy can be good for everyone, and there are always unintended consequences, like kids coming home hungry, which I’m sure was not the goal. I send lunch with my son because he IS a super picky eater and has explicitly told me that there is nothing (NOTHING!) he would eat from the school lunch menu.

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