Teaching our kids to grow up unhealthy?

If you are a parent like me with kids in public schools, most of our attention to schooling lies in academics, grades and social development. But, one aspect of public schools that always gets a solid “F”,  whether your kids’ grades are a B or an A+, is nutrition.

All you have to do is take a quick look at any local school’s hot lunch menu and the nutritional story is very clear. From pizza to corn dogs, pepperoni pizza sticks, cheeseburgers, ham sandwiches, and that old unhealthy standby, mac and cheese, it’s just all wrong. The question is, why are people involved in public education intentionally laying a solid foundation of junk food nutrition for these kids at such an early age?

chili dog and fries

School Lunch (Creative Commons)

The only slightly redeemable items on the school lunch menus are a variety of salads and coleslaw. But, how many kids do you think are eating them when they have pepperoni pizza and dessert staring them in the face? Probably not many. Childhood obesity is classified as a “disease” while the institution that needs to educate and lay a solid foundation at an early age is contributing to that epidemic. Our future generations are bound to be even worse off without some serious changes in their school lunch programs.

The fact is that more than 30,000,000 students pass through the lines in school cafeterias each day in the U.S. And, when you think about countries like France, where the rate of childhood obesity rate happens to be the Western world’s lowest, their school lunch fare is quite a bit different. A typical lunch would include four courses, starting with a cucumber and vinaigrette salad, salmon and spinach lasagna, fondue complete with a baguette for dipping, and ending with a fresh fruit compote for dessert.


School lunch in France (Creative Commons)

The French youngsters have for centuries appeared to be much healthier than children in our country. Could it be the lack of hot dogs, pizza, and sugary sodas for lunch? Compared to the French school lunch, ours here in the U.S. have burgers, pizza and cheesesteak sandwiches that have been reformulated to include mystery meats, processed cheese, and a bun made with bleached refined flour.

Beyond the nutrition itself, schools in our country have a short 20-30 minutes of lunch time while kids in Europe get as much as two hours for eating lunch and socializing.

Public school nutrition is seriously broken and if you are a parent like me, pack healthy lunches for them and keep educating them about importance of food choices they make, because schools are teaching them otherwise.