I thought about that title for a while before publishing this post, believe me. But I just can’t get around how true it is…and I’ll get to my logic in a minute. First the background: a couple weeks ago Congress changed parts of a bill that contained nutritional requirements for the National School Lunch Program. In an effort to slow down the devastating increase in childhood obesity and diabetes, the law had several proposed changes, essentially amounting to more vegetables, less salt, more whole grains, and fewer french fries. Congress changed it back: eliminating or delaying these updates. Why? Because the frozen foods, potato and salt lobbies wanted them to ($wonder why$).
Most public schools participate in the National School Lunch program:
“The National School Lunch Program is a federally assisted meal program operating in over 101,000 public and non‐profit private schools and residential child care institutions. It provided nutritionally balanced, low‐cost or free lunches to more than 31 million children each school day in 2010.” (Italics are mine.)
This is a tremendous amount of food: 31 million children x 270 school days per year = 7,440,000,000 meals (that’s nearly 7 and a half billion). To receive reimbursement a school must follow nutritional guidelines established by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture). Those regulations currently mandate a certain number of vegetables and fruits and provide general quidelines around numbers and percentages of calories (from fat, carbs, protein, sugar, etc). Even children who don’t qualify for free or reduced price meals participate in the program, as their meals are still reimbursed, just at a lower rate.
Those all seem like pretty reasonable guidelines. So why does school lunch frequently look like a piece of pizza, side of [...]