School room mystery
OK, most of us (no matter the generation) have joked about the unusual? or unidentifiable? items that show up in school lunches from time to time. Policies have been questioned (should ketchup get credit as a vegetable?) and school budgets have certainly been under stress (like everything else in the current economy). Given the magnitude of the program, diversity of students, generally poorer health of children in our society (more obesity, type 2 diabetes, drugs, and on and on) what should taxpayers expect from school lunch programs – whether or not you have children who participate? We would all probably like for the USDA (which sets guidelines and administers the program), along with our Congress (also involved in policy-making) to create guidelines that include the most cost efficient/nutritious/tasty meals available. I would also hope that the decisions be free of corporate influence (lobbyists).
But, in fact, the USDA is under no order to purchase nutritious foods. Consider the recent decision to purchase 7million pounds of “pink slime” for the school lunch program. This “food” (no longer used by fast food chains) has been used for pet food in the past. It is ground leftover scraps of meat and connective tissue, chemically treated with ammonia hydroxide to kill bacteria. It is used as filler for hamburgers. Do we really need a cheaper burger like this for kids?
Of course, other surplus foods show up in school lunches as well, and it is certainly not inherently a bad thing. But sometimes it seems that the school lunch program provides a nice dumping ground for surplus foods, providing additional profits for food manufacturers? If you want more information on how to improve school lunches, here’s one good source and Two Angry Moms.