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School Deems Chicken Nuggets Healthier than Turkey Sandwich. Wait . . . What?

By Meredith Carroll |

Chicken nuggets

How are these healthier than a turkey sandwich?

My 3-year-old daughter is a pretty picky eater. Her diet is mostly limited to peanut butter and jelly, pizza (without the cheese) and pasta. She won’t touch meat of any kind, milk or cheese. Thankfully she loves every kind of fruit and will also devour peas, edamame and carrots.

My husband and I don’t get crazy over what we think she might be missing in her diet. Her weight is perfectly normal and we figure she eats when she’s hungry and it’ll all even out in the end. That being said, we are careful about what we give her at each meal to ensure she doesn’t eat too much, say, fruit (if left to her own devices, she’d eat it all day long, and you can imagine what happens as a result). We try to look at the big picture of what she has eaten and will eat over the course of the day and make decisions about each meal accordingly. She doesn’t eat much, but much thought on our part goes into what she does (and will) eat.

We also don’t get crazy about what she eats when she’s not with us, like, say, at a friend’s house or for a snack or special treat served at school. That being said, what would make us crazy is if some pseudo-authority figure at her preschool took away what we packed her for lunch and replaced it with what they deemed to be better for her. That would make us crazy.

Don’t think it can’t happen, because it did. To a preschooler in North Carolina.

A state agent was inspecting lunch boxes at the West Hoke Elementary School and deemed that one student’s packed lunch of a turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, apple juice and potato chips “did not meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines,” according to Fox News.

So that lunch was taken away from the student and instead, the kid was given chicken nuggets. And guess what? The kids’ parents were billed for the replacement lunch!

The decision was said to be made “under consideration of a regulation put in place by the Division of Child Development and Early Education at the Department of Health and Human Services, which requires all lunches served in pre-kindergarten programs to meet USDA guidelines.”

Child care providers are required to “supplement” any “required” items that are missing when necessary.

I know, I know, apple juice and potato chips are hardly healthy. The bread might have been white instead of whole wheat. The sandwich had cheese on it. And unless the turkey was fresh-roasted breast meat, it can be filled with sodium.

But on what planet is a fried chicken nugget any better than anything in that lunch? Or considered healthy? Even if the meat is organic, it’s still fried! At worst, I’d call it a wash.

And maybe, just maybe, couldn’t they have let the kid eat the home packed lunch that day and sent home a note to the parents advising them of the problematic items and let them know in the future such meals would be replaced?

What am I missing here? Because it seems pretty black and white. And pretty damn stupid.

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About Meredith Carroll


Meredith Carroll

Meredith C. Carroll is an award-winning columnist and writer based in Aspen, Colorado. She can be found regularly on the Op-Ed page of The Denver Post. From 2005-2012 her other column, "Meredith Pro Tem" ran in several newspapers, as well as occasionally on The Huffington Post since 2009. Read more about her (or don’t, whatever) at her website. Read bio and latest posts → Read Meredith's latest posts →

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12 thoughts on “School Deems Chicken Nuggets Healthier than Turkey Sandwich. Wait . . . What?

  1. Dennis N says:

    It seems you missed the part that said “according to Fox News”. That is to say, the story is bogus.

  2. Meredith Carroll says:

    @Dennis — Yes, I can understand why a story about a turkey sandwich would be fabricated by Fox News in order to further the cause of the conservative right. Makes perfect sense. Oh, wait.

  3. Dennis N says:

    I didn’t say it was because of an agenda. I would say it’s because they’re just generally incompetent. See here:

  4. Manjari says:

    Well, libertarians and conservatives DO seem to have an insane fear that the government is not going to allow their kids to have junk food at school. So it makes sense that Faux News would fabricate this story to get people riled up about the “nanny state.”

  5. G says:

    When the government is deciding parents can’t give their kids turkey sandwiches, the term nanny state does not need scare quotes.

  6. Becca says:

    And just like that, G proves the point Dennis and Manjari were making.

  7. Amanda says:

    The story first came from a local outlet in North Carolina.
    I don’t automatically discount stories from MSNBC since they’re a liberal channel even though I’m a conservative, and I think it makes some of you liberals look ridiculous when you totally dismiss a story from FNC just because they’re a conservative channel. Conservatives have one freaking channel, and it semds some liberals into a tizzy. You have every other news channel, broadcast network, and most newspapers. Calm down.
    By the way, calling them “Faux News” is no longer considered clever or enlightened by anyone. Grow up.

  8. JB says:

    WOW– I am not sure what is more amazing-THIS TRUE STORY being broadcast on every news site on cable-tv-www or the fact that so many think fox is making this up- I think YOU should be more worried that the gov agency officials paid for with my tax money (yes i am one the few that actually pay tax-not get a huge undeserved refund) Is to stupid to know that this childs lunch MEETS EACH ALL EVERY requirement of the USDA. Any one this stupid in the private sector would be fired a long time ago. Get real- a nanny state indeed- with stupid nannies in tow. The school offical stating that the 4 year old child must of has a misunderstand with the staff- FIRE him aswell- seems hes to stupid to understand that pre-schoolers donr understand let alone misunderstand.

  9. Dennis N says:

    I didn’t discount them for being conservative. I never brought up liberalism/conservatism, and I never stated my political preferences. I discount them for constantly making mistakes like this.

  10. Manjari says:

    The point is that this story isn’t true. If it didn’t happen, then there is no need to get riled up about it. FAUX NEWS misrepresents facts and does not report accurate, honest news. It’s propaganda.

  11. daisy says:

    JB, I hope you did not pay any taxes to the school that taught you grammar and usage, because you do actually deserve a refund.

  12. dawn says:

    As a pre k teacher in ga i had to get a note from my doctor to bring my own food to school. They servedcwhole grain items but paid no attention to fat content. Their regulations dictate that teachers eat with the kids. Try having a lactose intolerant kid in that system. It was a pain to keep them from giving my daughter milk. I am all for healthier lunches but not at the cost of having the government dictating what my child eats.

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