Mystery Meat, Your Days Are Numbered
Like most of you out there, I'm a very busy mom. Not only am I a blogger, but I'm also a freelance writer, and photographer for our local newspaper. Throw in all the normal "Mommy" and "Wife" duties, and my plate is full. The last thing I want to be worrying about is my children's nutrition.
I try to feed my children healthy, nutritious meals at home. (No, I'm not always successful, sometimes I cave in and we eat something we shouldn't.) When it comes to school lunch, I usually pack my child's lunch 99% of the time. It's just easier that way, I know exactly what he's eating, and don't have to worry about what may or may not be in his meals.
There was a time, way back when, when school lunches were actually good. Dare I say, healthy? I can remember being in elementary school, and the lunches were, for the most part, something my own mom would cook and serve me. Those days seem to have disappeared. Nowadays, children are being served the dreaded, "Mystery Meat" in the school cafeteria. We've all heard about it, heck, I remember eating it in high school. What exactly is mystery meat? I know it wasn't beef, at least not the kind I ate at home. I don't want my child eating that! Glancing at the school menu my little one brought home, I was shocked to see what was on it: Nacho Cheese & Tortilla Chips as an entree... really?! I've never served my child Nacho Cheese & Tortilla Chips for lunch, ever! Or what about Soft Italian breadsticks... for lunch, as the entree?! Give me a break! Don't even get me started on schools serving hot dogs and corn dogs to our kids. Since learning of the connection between children's consumption of hot dogs and leukemia; I strictly limit the number my children eat.
My kids, and ALL OUR CHILDREN deserve better.
It looks like changes are on the horizon, finally! Through the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act championed by the First Lady (as part of her Let's Move! campaign) and signed by President Obama; the USDA is making the first major changes in school meals in 15 years! These changes will help us raise a healthier generation of children. The new changes are using the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans – the Federal government’s benchmark for nutrition, to ensure that children are receiving the same healthy foods that we, as Moms, would serve at home. This will change the lives of more than 32 MILLION kids that participate in school meal programs every day! This is monumental, and I'm so excited for our children. They are finally going to be eating healthy, nutritious meals in school, each and every day!
"As parents, we try to prepare decent meals, limit how much junk food our kids eat, and ensure they have a reasonably balanced diet,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “And when we’re putting in all that effort the last thing we want is for our hard work to be undone each day in the school cafeteria. When we send our kids to school, we expect that they won’t be eating the kind of fatty, salty, sugary foods that we try to keep them from eating at home. We want the food they get at school to be the same kind of food we would serve at our own kitchen tables.”
The final standards make the same kinds of practical changes that many parents are already encouraging at home, including:
- Ensuring students are offered both fruits and vegetables every day of the week
- Substantially increasing offerings of whole grain-rich foods;
- Offering only fat-free or low-fat milk varieties;
- Limiting calories based on the age of children being served to ensure proper portion size; and
- Increasing the focus on reducing the amounts of saturated fat, trans fats and sodium.
Here's a sample lunch menu with a before and after comparison for you to review:
I like all the changes I see, what about you?
Breakfasts will also be improved, though the initial push is to improve school lunches first. These changes will be phased in over a three year period. I applaud Michelle Obama, President Obama, & the USDA, for taking the necessary steps to improve the lives of millions of children, OUR CHILDREN.
This post is part of the National School Lunch Week with Healthy Food! A MomsRising Blog Carnival. Take a moment to read and comment on these thoughtful blogs, then tell us your story. Our stories are powerful and are what led administrators to set these rules in place.