Dumb Lunch GuidelinesPosted by on Tuesday, September 25th, 2012
When I was in high school, I played sports. I went to work after my team’s after school practices. I ate a lot. Also, my school’s lunch time through high school was 11:00am. I almost always ate a school lunch. By the time I was ready for dinner, I was very, very hungry. I was not overweight.
I’m glad that was the late 90s and not now. I would be in even worse shape if I had to go to high school these days. Some states are adopting the federal guidelines that limit school lunches to 850 calories. That might be fine for some people, and even the majority of people. But, that does not mean that this one-size-fits-all approach is a good idea. Of course, it’s almost always a one-size-fits-all approach when the government gets involved.
The solution to the problem of hungry kids, according to a school’s nutrition director is (emphasis added):
We need to encourage breakfasts at home or at school. We need to encourage students to take all of the items at lunch and then to plan for after-school activities by packing a healthy snack.
School districts that once financed bigger lunches could continue to offer extra food and comply with the calorie restrictions by establishing an afternoon snack program, Johnson said.
Parents of athletes and other active children should make sure they have a healthy snack between school and practice, Johnson said.
I totally agree that parents should become involved. Responsible parents probably already were involved. But, I think it’s ironic that the school is acknowledging there are hungry kids, which is a problem they caused, and then asking for parental involvement to solve the problem. Maybe we should just trust parents and kids to regulate their own behavior at lunch to make the best choices for themselves and their children. If the problem is that we can’t trust parents and kids, then how are these regulations helping when they require MORE parental involvement in order to make sure kids don’t go hungry?
And, of course, the supposed problem of having school lunches contain too many calories is not even solved with these guidelines. Even Witicha schools (one of the schools following the guidelines) has set up “share tables”:
Wichita schools cut down on waste by setting up “share tables,” where students can leave items such as bananas, oranges or packaged foods they don’t want.
So, in other words, a hungry kid can go up to one of these tables and a banana (at 110 calories a pop) and easily go over the 850 calorie limit, anyway. And what are these “packaged foods” they mention? Isn’t the idea that the lunches should be healthier? Isn’t “packaged food” just a synonym for “processed food?” Anyway, they don’t elaborate on that, so I guess I’ll leave it alone.
The fact is that the government continues to try to protect you from yourself. Of course, you could always bring a brown bag lunch to protest these rules, and many kids have, but don’t forget the fact that some schools forbid this. And then there was the case of the child who was forced to eat a school lunch when it was deemed that their home-prepared lunch was too unhealthy.
Do I think childhood obesity is a problem? Yes, I do, actually. I think obesity is a problem in general in this country. However, I think the government has got it all wrong one how to solve it. Diet is a big part of it, but restricting calories isn’t a good idea. It slows your metabolism and causes you to want to binge later in the day. It decreases performance and alertness. It can even cause bone loss. Anyway, I’m no nutritionist, but I think the best way to get “cure” obesity is to eat less sugar, including processed breads.
But, I’m not here to spout my nutritional theories. I’m here to remind you that the government is intruding once again. Even though I think sugar and processed foods cause big problems, I don’t believe in totally restricting them, even in my own house.
On the flip side of this, if we don’t want government regulations, we need to stop requesting assistance from the government on these issues. When we see a problem in our country (like obesity), we need to resist the urge to think the government should do something about it. The fact is, we won’t be satisfied (as a whole) with what they decide to do, anyway.
If we think obesity is a problem, we are most likely referring to “those other people” we saw at the buffet the other night. If we were worried about our own obesity, we would do our own research, start our own exercise regimen, and get cracking on it. We wouldn’t sit around and wait for the government to do something about it. And, lastly, if we’re not worried about obesity at all, we’re really going to be mad when “those other people” tell us we can’t have our large sodas.
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