Should your kids participate, or should you pack your kids lunches?
The U.S. federal school lunch program was originally created to assure children had access to low cost, nutritious foods. Unfortunately, the program has aged; and not well. From personal experience, our own children usually detest the foods offered, instead coming home at the end of each day starving. Meals are often times fried, or loaded down with unhealthy carbohydrates. Billed as “nutritious,” program administrators are limited by budgetary constraints and regulations limiting the ratios of salt, fat, and protein. Despite those limitations, school rules allow kids to purchase “extra” desserts once they’ve purchased (but not necessarily eaten) the main course for the day. Shrinking budgets have prompted schools to rely heavily on packaged junk foods, which even limits kids access to healthy snacks.
The entire situation adds up to a nutrition disaster for kids at school, with the very program intended to assure kids access to healthy foods instead doing just the opposite. Proponents for school lunches argue (correctly) that the school lunch program provides food at a lower cost than parents can pack their kids lunch. At an average cost of $2/day for lunch, its difficult, if not impossible, to pack your kids lunches for that amount of money. As those concerned with healthy eating know, its not cheap to eat healthy. It takes a fair amount of time, effort, and planning. So, the ultimate question becomes, whether its worth the cost and effort on the part of parents to take control of their kids eating habits at school.