School lunch: A cruel joke kids (and parents) are catching on to

I just read a story that made me laugh out loud—though not in a good way. But before I go into it, let me just say that I don’t have anything personal against the First Family. In fact, I have been a frequent visitor to the White House.

However, what I do have a problem with is people who dole out advice on things that are out of their area of expertise. And for this, I must chastise the First Lady.

She truly has no business telling children what to eat. Her own kids, sure. But certainly not the rest of the nation’s children. Last time I looked, she had no medical degree—or a nutrition one, either.

That’s not to say her MyPlate campaign (and subsequent offshoots) wasn’t a noble effort. But there has been considerable backlash regarding her attempts to improve childhood nutrition in this country. And given her lack of nutritional credentials, who can be surprised?

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (passed in 2010) was part of an effort to combat childhood obesity. But the result has been school lunches that have left students complaining about tiny portions and unappetizing options (with lots of horrifying photos posted to social media sites under the hashtag #ThanksMichelleObama as “evidence”).

In fact, the federal government’s school lunch program is so dismal one school district is essentially bribing the students to eat the meals. According to the article I mentioned above, the Jefferson County, Colorado, school district introduced a “Hungry to Win” raffle, offering students a chance to win a prize if they buy “healthier” lunches.

Now, whether these lunches are really healthier is a whole separate debate (one I’ll tackle in just a minute). But regardless, the kids aren’t buying it—literally.

School lunch participation is down 6 percent in the last year. This decreases the school’s revenue, which means the school could lose the “lunch money” it gets from the federal government. And the school obviously doesn’t want to lose the funding.

For schools, this comes down to a money issue, pure and simple.

But there’s a much bigger concern at stake here. Namely, our kids’ health.

The meals in question abide by all the bogus federal guidelines:

–  lower in salt (wrong—low-salt diets hold absolutely no scientific evidence of lowering risk of heart disease)

– lower in fat (wrong again—the human brain is almost entirely fat…and we want kids to have healthy brains, right?)

– more grain (just … bad)

All of this translates into kids who are overweight and utterly unable to focus.

And that’s if they choose the “healthy” option offered by the school. Which, as statistics show, simply isn’t happening, because the so-called “healthy” meals don’t taste good. But the fact is, there is simply no reason healthy food can’t taste good.

The reason the “new-and-improved” school lunches are tasteless is because they are following misguided low-fat, nutrition guidelines that don’t make any sense—and certainly don’t come from science.

If you have the option, the best thing you can do is to have your kids or grandkids skip those school lunches altogether. Pack healthy, satisfying lunches for them instead. Better yet, get them involved in the process. Give them some choices of kid-friendly, nutritious foods (things like cheese, veggies and dip, hard-boiled eggs, sliced lunchmeat). Let them pick out what they want to bring, and help you pack it. (For more ideas on healthy foods kids actually WANT to eat, check out my book Feed Your Kids Well.)

The bottom line is, we can’t rely on schools—or the government—to feed kids well. That job starts at home.


“School Tells Students If They Eat Michelle Obama Lunches They Can Win Prizes,” Fox News, 12/15/14