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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What's for Dinner Wednesday? School Lunch

What’s For Dinner this Wednesday?  Well, apparently I have been a little wound up about the school lunches on Facebook according to some of my friends.  I have tried to steer clear of political issues just like my fellow blogger Debbie Lyons-Blythe who writes the blog Life On a Kansas Cattle Ranch.  If you want some background information and are clueless about why parents are up in arms about the school lunch, go check out her post.

I have always been a believer in school lunch, but after the first 5 days of school The Farmer and I gave in and started letting the kids take a sack lunch to school.  WHY?  My kids get on the school bus at 6:45 am and get off the bus at 4:30, that’s nine hours and forty five minutes to live off of our school food service.  My first grader was absolutely starving when he got home school.  One night, he ate 2 yogurts (I am not talking about little kid size ones either), he ate supper with the family at 6:00, and then ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (with 2 slices of bread) at bed time.  I couldn’t believe how much he ate.  It also took 2 hours before he could concentrate on something other than food so we could get his homework done.

 So what are my suggestions for school lunch?  Here is what we have done this week to make things interesting.  I am looking for more ideas to put together this weekend.

  1. Gogurt-  I freeze the Gogurt so it stays nice an cold until lunch time.
  2. Apples- My boys love apples even though my fourth grader tells me that it isn’t cool to eat them at lunch.  So the kids can eat them easier, I use an apple wedger and then take a rubber band to hold the apple back  together.  It doesn’t turn brown, and I don’t have to use any preservatives to keep it that way.  
  3.  Sun Butter- Our elementary school is nut free due to a few of the kids with severe nut allergies.  I think it is fine to keep these kids safe by restricting the consumption of nuts, but that limits our options for lunch.  We used to grow sunflowers quite often and we have learned that there is a nut free substitute for peanut butter call Sun Butter.  It does taste a little different, but at least it is a protein source for the kids. 
  4.  Cookies- If you want to make healthy cookies for the kids and again are in a nut free school, try making cookies that have roasted soybeans instead of nuts like this recipe for Henry Ford Chocolate Chip Soybean Cookies. 
  5.  Of course, I give them lots of fruits and vegies and I am using all those little bitty plastic containers that I never use. 
  6.  Ice Packs- I have a tremendous supply of frozen ice packs.  Your veterinarians will probably kill me, but all vets get vaccine on ice and my vet throws out a ton of these every week.

While I understand that many kids are overweight in America, I don’t think that putting the entire youth population on a diet is the answer.  Most of the kids are going to go home and find the easiest thing to eat and I guarantee you that it won’t be fresh fruits and vegetables.

I read the blog post that USDA sent out before their Twitter event today.  I was really glad that they brought up that this was part of Mrs. Obama’s plan.  It got me to thinking.  Do her girls go to public school?  No.  Do they have to eat under the same guidelines?  No.  Do they have to ride to school?  Yes, but I am guessing it is a 5 minute ride in a limo and not 90 minutes before school starts on a school bus.  If you would like to see what they get to eat, here is a link to their school's lunch menu.

I think my 9 year old summed this up the best and reminded me why I believe 4-H is an excellent way for everyone to learn.    When discussing this before school started here is how our conversation went:
D:  Mom, that is stupid!
Me:  Well there are kids that are overweight and they need to do something.
D:  Yes, but when I was feeding my lambs and they started getting fat, I just increased their protein and gave them more exercise.

Hmm, my 9 year old (who gets 40 minutes a day for lunch AND recess and PE every 3rd day)  knows that the way to increase muscle and decrease fat is not by removing protein from a diet, but instead increasing it.  How about that!?

Let me know what you think and follow Sensible School Lunches on Facebook.  If you have any great ideas on how to keep lunches fun and interesting for the kids, I would love to hear from you.

Pinke Post also has a Link party going on to further the discussion on school lunches.  Go check it out!

-A Kansas Farm Mom